The Red Button

Transgenders: Pakistan's Open Secret image

(52 min.) Poland/Russia/USA

Director: Ewa Pieta, Miroslaw Grubek
Producer: Slawomir Grunberg, Miroslaw Grubek


The Red Button tells the dramatic story of Stanislaw Petrov, the Russian officer who, in 1983, saved the world from atomic war. On September 26th, 1983, Stanislaw Petrov was in charge of monitoring American missiles that could potentially be sent to Russia to start a nuclear war. Shortly after midnight, Petrov noticed a missile on his screen. Several minutes later, things became much more serious: four more missiles appeared and a red warning sign “Missile Attack” began to flash. The future of the world was in the 44-year-old Russian officer’s hands as he wrestled with the decision of whether or not to use Russia’s atomic button. Fortunately for all of us, Petrov made the correct decision. Although Petrov had effectively saved the world from atomic war, he was reprimanded for not filling out the logbooks on that day, and a year later he was given an option to retire. Today, Petrov lives in a small town near Moscow in relative anonymity, surviving only on a tiny pension of $200 a month.


Slawomir Grünberg directed and produced over forty television documentaries focusing on critical social, political, and environmental issues. From Chechnya to Chernobyl received a Golden Cine Award. Shtetl, the epic film that Slawomir photographed and served as second unit producer was awarded the Silver Baton for Excellence in Radio/TV Journalism by Dupont- Columbia University, and the Grand Prix at the Cinema du Reel Film Festival. The most recent of Grünberg’s films are dealing with LGTB&Q community in Poland: Trans-Action and Coming Out Polish Style. Several others films are on the Holocaust theme: The Peretzniks, In the Name of Their Mothers: The Story of Irena Sendler by Mary Skinner, Paint What You Remember, The Legacy of Jedwabne and Saved by Deportation. Portraits of Emotion, a film about autism, received an Expression Award at Brazil’s Disability Film Festival and Grand Prix at the Belgrade International Film Festival. His director of photography credits include, among others, Legacy, which received an Academy Award Nomination for the best documentary feature and Sister Rose’s Passion, which received an Academy Award Nomination for the best documentary short. Slawomir has also been a contributing director of photography and editor for the PBS series: Frontline, AIDS Quarterly, American Masters, NOVA, Health Quarterly, Inside Gorbachev's USSR with Hedrick Smith and People's Century as well as Lifetime and HBO.