The promise of jobs from a proposed uranium mill has an economically devastated mining community in Colorado hopeful for the first time in decades. Despite the fact residents of this once prosperous area experienced economic, environmental and health consequences in the past, the majority of residents want to see the uranium industry return to the region. When environmentalists step in to stop the proposal, mill supporters are enraged.

Uranium Drive-In offers a springboard for national debate about rural poverty, economic development issues, environmental concerns and nuclear energy. The film offers no easy answers but aims instead to capture personal stories and paint a portrait of the lives behind this nuanced and complex issue.

About the Name

In the 1950s, uranium mining was big business, creating jobs and driving the economy in the communities of Nucla and Naturita, where most of the film takes place. As in many small communities, the drive-in movie theater, the Uranium Drive-In, was a hub of social and community activity. After the uranium industry shut down, the economy collapsed and the drive-in movie theater closed. Eventually, the iconic Uranium Drive-In sign was sold and lay in a field until a recent fundraising effort allowed the community to repair and resurrect the sign, which has become a symbol of better times.

Technical Info

  • Total Run Time 70 min
  • Frame Rate 23.98
  • Sound Format Stereo
  • Aspect Ratio 16:9
  • Original Format HDcam
  • Screening Format Blu Ray NTSC- Region 0
  • Closed Captioning available from New Day Digital


International Distributor

Educational Distributor


A Reel Thing Film
In association with the Telluride Institute

Suzan Beraza

Michelle Maughan, Judith Kohin, Casey Nay, Suzan Beraza

Executive Producers
Barrett Toan and Polly O'Brien

Jim Hurst, Ben Knight

Camera, 2nd Unit Director
David Byars, Susannah Remec

Casey Nay, David Byars, Suzan Beraza

Original Music

Principal Cast
Ayngel Overson, Tami Lowrance, Jennifer Thurston

Festivals + Awards


  • STARZ Denver Film Festival
  • United Nations Film Festival
  • Telluride Mountainfilm Festival
  • Newport Beach Film Festival
  • Arica Nativa Film Festival, Chile
  • Big Sky Film Festival
  • Wild & Scenic Film Festival
  • Durango Film Festival
  • St. Louis International Film Festival
  • Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival
  • Dominican Republic International Film Festival
  • Rocky Mountain Women's Film Festival
  • Yale Environmental Film Festival
  • Frozen River Film Festival
  • Environmental Film Festival in the Nations Capital
  • San Francisco Green Film Festival
  • Sun Valley Film Festival
  • Ashland Independent Film Festival
  • FilmAmbiente, Rio de Janerio, Brazil
  • International Uranium Film Festival, Berlin, Germany, Albequerque, NM Amman, Jordan


  • Best Feature Film, Arica Nativa Film Festival, Chile
  • Best of Festival, Big Sky Film Festival
  • Jury Award, Wild & Scenic Film Festival
  • Jury Award, Durango Film Festival
  • Special Mention for Documentary Excellence, St. Louis International Film Festival


Television Broadcast
Uranium Drive-In is currently airing nationally on Pivot TV, a Participant Media channel. To find Pivot in your area, check here.

Community Screenings
Uranium Drive-In has recently launched a nationwide community screenings tour to spark national debate about rural poverty, economic development issues, environmental concerns and nuclear energy. If you are interested in bringing the film to your community please contact New Day Films for public performance rights.

Contact us for information on receiving a 50% discount if your organization is located in an area affected by resource extraction.

Educational Screenings
Uranium Drive-In serves as the perfect springboard for dynamic classroom discussion and thoughtful conversation. The film is available for educational licensing at New Day Films. An extensive discussion guide for high school and university level can be downloaded from the film website to further explore the broader economic, environmental, and sociological questions raised by the film.

Digital Resources
Uranium Drive-In is available digitally from New Day Digital. Options include a 5 year institutional license and a 14 day in-class use license. Visit New Day Digital to learn more.

Subject Areas

  • Environmental Studies
  • Environmental Communication
  • Environmental Law and Policy
  • Rural Development
  • Rural Economics
  • Natural Resource Management
  • Nuclear Engineering
  • Regional Studies
  • Social Justice
  • Journalism & Communications
  • Film Studies

Additional Resources

Useful Links

About Reel Thing Productions

Reel Thing is a small and dedicated film and production company that focuses on social justice and environmental projects. Our goal as filmmakers is to find and tell compelling stories and use the power of film to create positive change. We are drawn to misunderstood issues and under-represented communities. Our team is comprised of highly acclaimed artists and cinematographers, sound engineers, writers, producers and graphic artists.

Reel Thing was founded in 2000 by Suzan Beraza. Reel Thing has been involved in a number of award-winning social justice and environmental films, most recently, Bag It, completed in 2010. Bag It continues to travel the world offering a sharp perspective on our use and abuse of plastic. Since January 2011, Bag It has screened over 700 times and has premiered on national public television and the Documentary Channel. Bag It continues to screen at colleges, universities and libraries all over the world, and has won a significant number of awards.

Staff Bios

Suzan Beraza > Director
Born in Jamaica and raised in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, social and environmental issues pervade Suzan's work. In 2008, she founded Reel Thing Productions, an independent film and media company based in Telluride, Colorado. Beraza’s films have appeared on National Public Television, at Lincoln Center, and at many festivals internationally. Her film, Bag It, has won over 20 festival awards and has been televised in over 30 countries. Her most recent project, Uranium Drive-In, is being broadcast nationally on Pivot TV (Participant Media). Uranium Drive-In is a recipient of Sundance Institute and Chicken and Egg funding and was featured at Good Pitch and at Hot Docs Pitch Forum. The film was recently selected as part of American Film Showcase, a program of the U.S. State Department that brings award-winning films and filmmakers to audiences around the world.

Michelle Maughan > Producer
Producer for the award winning films films Bag It and Uranium Drive-In, Michelle has been with Reel Thing since 2009. She specializes in hybrid and self-distribution, outreach and engagement strategies and campaign management. For both Bag It and Uranium Drive-In, Michelle negotiated rights, securing distribution partners in domestic and international broadcast, DVD sales, education and VOD. In this way, the filmmaking team was able to stay directly involved in outreach and engagement with audiences. She has run three educational campaigns for Bag It working with numerous partner organizations. She was recently a guest at Puma's Talks at Banz (Germany), a conference focused on corporate sustainability strategies. She believes in the power of film to serve as a catalyst for social change.

Ben Knight > Co-Director of Photography
Ben is the co-founder of Felt Soul Media, a production company he started in 2004 that focuses on environmental films. Through Felt Soul he has photographed, directed and edited a number of award winning films, including The Hatch (2005), Running Down the Man (2007), Red Gold (2008), and most recently, Eastern Rises (2010). Ben is a Telluride resident who honed his skills while working in the photojournalism field for 10 years.

Jim Hurst > Co-Director of Photography
Jim is an Emmy-nominated cinematographer and a photographer, sound recordist, adventurer and filmmaker who has worked on documentary films from the peaks of the Himalayas to Midway Atoll in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, including shooting for two years in India for the film Schooling the World. He was a lead cameraman for Bag It and Director of Photography for Uranium Drive-In. He specializes in self-sufficient location documentary shooting in places where a large crew would be impractical or obtrusive.

David Garrett Byars > Camera, Sound, Editor
David is a former financial analyst who left his job in 2008 to become a filmmaker. He joined Reel Thing in 2010 and worked as an editor, cameraman, and sound technician on Uranium Drive-In. Other work includes commercial projects, collaborations with other filmmakers, and independent films of his own. Self Storage, his first fictional work, premiered as part of the Louisiana Film Prize this summer.

Caesy Nay > Editor
Producer, editor and art director for Reel Thing, Casey specializes in editing, graphic design and motion graphics. Casey was born and raised in southwestern Colorado. Uranium Drive-In is a project close to his heart, as the story takes place in his hometown and surrounding communities.He was co-editor for Bag It and a producer / editor for Uranium Drive-In. When he’s not in the studio, he runs his own graphic design business, CN Design.