USA, 2013, 70 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Colorado, Documentary, Environmental, Social Issues
Naturita, population 519, until the mid-1980s was home to uranium mines that kept the southwestern Colorado town employed. (Its drive-in theater inspired the title of the film.) Practically a ghost town today, with businesses boarded up, rampant unemployment, and even a shuttered and for-sale elementary school, the promise of jobs from a proposed uranium mill has breathed hope into the town for the first time in decades.
Energy Fuels is behind the proposed Piñon Ridge Uranium Mill, the first to be built in the U.S. in 30 years, and the area’s residents are delighted at the prospect of renewed prosperity. The region has a proud mining history: Cold War-era miners from the area consider themselves the patriots who protected our country despite the ailments they now suffer from radiation exposure. Proponents of the new mill insists that it will use modern “clean and green” methods of uranium mining, but when environmentalists from the wealthy nearby resort town of Telluride step in, a debate ensues.
Director Suzan Beraza (Bag It, SDFF 33) follows both sides of the issue without judgment, asking a question to which there are no easy answers. The two sides’ conflicting views of the region’s future—pro-job vs. pro- health/environment—are portrayed with adroit portraits of the people at the heart of the dispute. Uranium Drive-In is a look at a remote community whose economy is devastated and has an opportunity to reclaim its prosperity—but not without risks. The film asks the question of some of the most pressing issues facing our nation in the wake of the recession: at what price prosperity?
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DIRECTOR: Suzan Beraza
Producer: Michelle Maughan
Editor: Casey Nay
Cinematographer: Jim Hurst