‘Uranium Drive In’ Review

By Eli Ralston

Set in the rural town of Naturia in south western Colorado, Uranium Drive In is about the long running debate between a few different groups about a corporation (Energy Fuels Corporation) wanting to come to this small town to start a uranium mine. A group called the “Sheep Mountain Alliance” lives downstream from the proposed mine and they decide to sue to stop the proposed mine from happening. While Uranium Drive In tries to capture all sides of this political issue, they fall just short of achieving greatness due to a few short falls with their delivery of the message.

     Of course there are a lot of different opinions from many different people about this issue and the film goes around listening to everyones side of the story. We hear from the people in the town who could benefit financially from the jobs the mill would bring. There we meet Ayngel and Ed who are trying to make ends meet by doing various odd jobs. We hear from one of the workers with Sheep Mountain Alliance, Jennifer, one of the women in charge of Sheep Mountain Alliance, worries about the long-term damage to the land and to the water for thousands of people downstream. We also hear from people who have been physically affected by uranium mining. There is even one former miner that had an accident in the mine and is now a double amputee missing both of his legs. One of his quotes from the film was the most memorable line from the film saying;  “I wish this place was never here.” The testimonies that we hear from the “regular people” in the film and by people who have been hurt were truly moving. They were heartfelt interviews and I really felt for these people and their issues, whether they be physical or financial.

From a technical aspect, there are shots in the film that are beautifully constructed and truly captures the western landscape where these people live. There are vibrant colors with some great tricks using the focus. While there are a few interview shots that are not as well constructed and just look odd compared to other shots.  Overall the film is great to look at.

     While the film does a pretty good job of showcasing both sides of the issue, there really weren’t any statistics or even proof to back up some of the messages that were being conveyed throughout the film. For the majority of the time we just had to take these people on their word about what they were saying. There weren’t even any expert interviews with people who were well versed on the topic of uranium mining. During a few of the interviews in the film, I would ask myself, “Why should I believe what this person is saying?” It doesn’t really detract from the message, but it hurts the believability of the message.

The main message of the film is pretty consistent, but there are points in the film where I felt they got a bit off topic with scenes and interviews that could have honestly been cut from the film. The scene with the animal slaughter and skinning of the animal just felt unnecessary and added nothing. Director Suzan Beraza‘s theme of pro-job vs pro environment message comes to its climax when we have a sit-down between Jennifer from “Sheep Mountain Alliance” and Angyel. This was the perfect view of these two different sides bring their opinions to the table. The film does a great job of not asking easy questions, but instead making the audience really think about this complex issue and the fact that there really is no easy answer.

All in all Uranium Drive In is the kind of documentary that truly showcases both sides of an issue without having any bias. They just collect the facts and present them to the audience to decide for themselves. The film asks one of the major questions that are being raised to many rural areas across the nation and doesn’t pretend to have all of the answers. It’s a good film to see for any fan of documentaries.

Verdict: Good, Uranium Drive In is a documentary that truly showcases both sides of the argument with a good, sometimes off topic, message.
Positives: Some beautiful shots, truly showcases both sides.
Negatives: No expert interviews, some odd interview shots.