Brittany Prater’s directing debut, Uranium Derby is a feature-length documentary that centers around an experiment gone wrong—the American nuclear experiment. In the film, Prater’s investigation into her Iowa hometown’s secret involvement in the Manhattan project triggers a chain reaction of encounters through which it becomes clear that the topic of nuclear waste was more successfully buried than the waste itself. This film depicts the manner in which toxic nuclear waste, generated and collected in a few specific places, was allowed to spread to numerous sites around a small Midwestern university town and subsequently the country.
During our current neo-cold war era, in which the Environmental Protection Agency has been all but disarmed, Uranium Derby provides a unique perspective into the long history leading up to our current predicament. According to the art historian Joy Sperling,
“The film… generates a large number of open-ended questions, and in so doing brings to the forefront critical issues about the role and responsibility of industry and the government for protecting the public health and preserving the environment.”