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The New Fire

Nuclear power has been vilified in popular culture and 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.

Filmed across 4 continents over the course of 22 months, Emmy-winning director David Schumacher 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 new heroes who are trying to save it.

  • David Schumacher
  • David Schumacher
  • James E. Hansen
    Key Cast
  • Jeffrey Sachs
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 24 minutes 30 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    October 12, 2017
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    China, France, Senegal, United Kingdom, United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Heartland Film Festival
    United States
    October 14, 2017
    World Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Cambridge Film Festival
    United Kingdom
    October 20, 2017
    International Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Denver Film Festival
    United States
    November 3, 2017
    Denver Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Ojai Film Festival
    Ojai, CA
    United States
    November 4, 2017
    Official Selection
  • St. Louis International Film Festival
    St. Louis, MO
    United States
    November 6, 2017
    St. Louis Premiere
    Official Selection
    New York, NY
    United States
    November 12, 2017
    New York Premiere
    Official Selection
  • RVA Environmental Film Festival
    Richmond, VA
    United States
    February 15, 2018
    Richmond Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Sedona International Film Festival
    Sedona, AZ
    United States
    February 25, 2018
    Arizona Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Massachussetts Institute of Technology
    United States
    March 12, 2018
  • Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital (DCEFF)
    United States
    March 17, 2018
    DC Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Argonne National Laboratory
    United States
    April 26, 2018
  • University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
    United States
    March 27, 2018
  • Georgia Tech
    United States
    March 30, 2018
  • University of Michigan
    Ann Arbor
    United States
    April 2, 2018
  • Philadelphia Environmental Film Festival
    United States
    April 8, 2018
    Philadelphia Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Cleveland International Film Festival
    United States
    April 9, 2018
    Cheveland Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Princeton Environmental Film Festival
    United States
    April 14, 2018
    Princeton Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Carnegie Mellon University
    Pittsburgh, PA
    United States
    April 16, 2018
  • Atherton Earth Day
    Atherton, CA
    United States
    April 21, 2018
  • University of Tennessee
    Knoxville, TN
    United States
    April 23, 2018
  • Childs Auditorium
    Deep River
    April 25, 2018
  • Library and Archives Canada
    April 26, 2018
  • IFFBoston
    United States
    April 28, 2018
    New England Premiere
    Official Selection
  • FinnKino Tennispalatsi
    May 9, 2018
  • Danish Film Institute Cinematheque
    May 11, 2018
  • Discovery Place
    Charlotte, NC
    United States
    July 26, 2018
Director Biography - David Schumacher

A graduate of Berklee College of Music, David Schumacher began his career touring the continent as a jazz-rock guitarist. He entered the world of documentary film as a sound recordist, working with esteemed filmmakers Roger Ross Williams, Kim Snyder, Barbara Kopple and Ken Burns. Inspired by their example and drawn to environmental activism, he has since gone into producing and directing. The New Fire is his first feature film.

David earned a 2010 New York Emmy Award for creating, producing and directing the TV series NYCMusicShow. He has produced branding and identity campaigns for Oxygen, WEtv and CBS College Sports, and made documentary, educational and promotional films for clients including Columbia University, The World Economic Forum, and The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation.

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Director Statement

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. We were 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 confront 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 is small startups 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 young engineers at Transatomic 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 could have cashed in for a fortune by doing something else – believe deeply that nuclear power can 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