What if the solution to climate change is hiding in plain sight?
Nuclear power has been vilified in popular culture and among much of the environmental community. Yet the next-generation reactors currently in development may actually be key to avoiding global catastrophe. The young entrepreneurs heading this energy revolution realize they’re up against more than the climate clock – they need to convince all of us that the new nuclear is safe and achievable.
The New Fire is an independent documentary that introduces audiences to young nuclear engineers who are developing next-generation reactors which they hope will provide clean and safe solutions to the world’s future energy needs. With unprecedented access to key people, places, and events, Emmy-winning director David Schumacher’s film focuses on how the generation facing the most severe impact of climate change is fighting back with ingenuity and hope. The New Fire tells a provocative and startlingly positive story about a planet in crisis and the young heroes who are trying to save it.
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING
"People will some day look back from a future where safe, clean, advanced nuclear power is a reality and recognize that this film was the catalyst that inspired a new generation of climate heroes to become nuclear engineers.”
- Jeff Nesbit, Executive Director of Climate Nexus and Author of This is the Way the World Ends
"This smart, compelling documentary is filled with idealistic young engineers convinced that nuclear power is the right energy to match with renewables to fight global warming. I think they’re right—and I think you will too after you meet them, breathe their enthusiasm, and see and hear their bold new ideas.”
- Richard Rhodes, Author of Energy: A Human History
"With the urgency of transitioning to a low-carbon energy system, the debate over next-generation nuclear power takes on a special significance. The New Fire is the most important and captivating documentary film treatment of this issue. The film follows several young entrepreneurs on their quest for safe, flexible, and low-cost advanced nuclear technologies. Of great interest for all who are searching for solutions to the world’s climate-and-energy crisis.”
- Jeffrey Sachs, University Professor and Director of the Center for Sustainable Development, The Earth Institute at Columbia University
“The New Fire tells the story of three advanced nuclear startups and in doing so, lays out the reasons why new nuclear is needed. This isn’t An Inconvenient Truth – it’s a new reality. We’re going to have to combat climate change, and we’re going to have to use nuclear power to do so. Some companies may succeed and some may fail. The question is: will humanity fail to address climate change because we fear nuclear power?”
-Jeff Terry, professor of physics at the Illinois Institute of Technology
WHAT’S THIS NEW TECHNOLOGY?
THE NEW FIRE follows young engineers who are developing next-generation nuclear reactors that are a fraction of the size and cost of today’s nuclear plants. Unlike the current reactors, their main components can be built in factories and delivered to the site by truck, rail or barge.
These Advanced Reactors are inherently safe and cannot melt down. Unlike today’s Light Water Reactors, Advanced Reactors use coolants that cannot evaporate, such as liquid metals or molten salts. If they overheat, Advanced Reactors automatically shut themselves off and cool down passively without operator intervention or pumps. And, since they don’t use high-pressure water as coolant, they can operate at much higher temperatures while remaining at atmospheric pressure. (Learn More…)
This isn’t a film about politics, or about how much damage we’ve already done, or pointing fingers at who is to blame. This is a film about a path forward, to show audiences that there is a technological solution - one that may surprise them.
I understand that nuclear has had its problems over the years and that there are risks. But I’m more afraid of the risks of unchecked climate change than I am of a hypothetical nuclear accident. The scale of climate change is almost unfathomable and threatens the future of the human race. The United States was on a path to developing ground breaking nuclear technology in the ‘60s but then it stalled. Why haven’t we gone back to these promising discoveries to address the most pressing problem that humanity has ever faced?
Well, it turns out that we have...I just hadn’t heard about it. Rather than a large Manhattan Project- scale effort, it’s several small startups, some founded by young people. Really impressive, idealistic young people who are determined to prove that nuclear energy’s best days lie ahead.
This was the beginning of my obsession with the subject of nuclear power. But it wasn’t until I met the people at Transatomic Power and Oklo that I knew I had to make this movie. These brilliant young people – some of the most gifted engineers of their generation, who in all likelihood could have cashed in for a fortune by doing something else – believe deeply that nuclear power could play a key role in saving the planet. And they are acting on that conviction. They did the research. They raised the money. They used cutting edge computer technology to perfect their designs. They are the new face of nuclear power, and to me, the newest and most unlikely climate heroes.
I want audiences to come away from THE NEW FIRE with a new perspective about a technology they may have dismissed until now. And new sense of mission to try and save our planet before it’s too late.
— David Schumacher
DAVID SCHUMACHER DIRECTOR AND PRODUCER
Emmy Award-winning director David Schumacher began his career as a rock and jazz guitarist after graduating from Berklee College of Music. He entered the world of film and television working with such esteemed filmmakers as Barbara Kopple and Ken Burns and has since developed a client list that includes Columbia University and The World Economic Forum. Inspired and driven, his focus on environmental issues led him to create THE NEW FIRE, a new documentary that upsets the conventional wisdom about "bad old nuclear," and has won praise from critics and audiences worldwide.
DEREK WIESEHAHN DIR. OF PHOTOGRAPHY & CO-PRODUCER
Derek Wiesehahn has over twenty years of experience as a documentary director of photography. His recent cinematography credits include the 2010 Academy Award-winning documentary short, Music By Prudence, the 2013 Academy Award-nominated documentary, How To Survive A Plague and the 2014 Oscar-shortlisted documentary, God Loves Uganda. Derek’s camera operating credits include the 2011 Sundance winner, and Academy Award-nominated documentary, Restrepo, and its follow-up, Korengal. Most recently, Derek was director of photography for Newtown, which premiered at Sundance 2016 to broad critical acclaim.
ADAM ZUCKER EDITOR
Adam Zucker is an award-winning documentary editor and filmmaker. He has edited dozens of feature documentaries, including American Hollow (Sundance Film Festival, HBO), Death By Design (Sheffield Doc/Fest), Show Business, Gotta Dance (Tribeca Film Festival and Showtime), Broadway: The American Musical, Richard Wright: Black Boy (BBC) and The West (PBS). Adam is the producer/director of The Return, currently on the international film circuit, and Greensboro: Closer to the Truth, which screened globally, and received the Audience Award for Best Feature at the Rome International Film Festival.
ROSS KONINGSTEIN EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Ross Koningstein is an advocate of advanced technology nuclear energy. He is an engineering director emeritus at Google. Ross worked on Google's Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal (RE<C) initiative. From this work he discovered that intermittent renewables could not economically solve climate change, and he co-authored the thought provoking article "What It Would Really Take to Reverse Climate Change". Ross then founded Google's Nuclear Energy R&D group, starting several efforts that he hopes may make a difference. Ross obtained a Bachelor in Engineering from Carleton University, and Masters and PhD degrees in Aerospace Engineering from Stanford University.
WENDY PEREZ ASSOCIATE PRODUCER
Wendy Perez is an expert in executing engagement campaigns for brands and networks. As an account supervisor at Devries PR Firm and Edelman, Wendy provided strategic counsel to clients and developed and executed consumer engagement campaigns that authentically, transparently and creatively connected with their audience. Prior to joining Edelman, Wendy served as the partnerships & public affairs manager at Viacom International Media Networks. Wendy graduated from Barnard College with a BA in Urban Studies and a double minor in Environmental Science and Economics.