Radium Girls

Radium Girls

Sloan Foundation Film

Release Date



  • Ginny Mohler
  • Lydia Dean Pilcher


  • Joey King
  • Abby Quinn


  • 2013, NYU Tisch School of the Arts: 100k First Feature Award
  • Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Feature Film Award

When mysterious ailments strike a dial painter at American Radium, a dark truth emerges: She is not the first in the watch factory to fall ill. Her sister's legal fight against the corporation in 1928 launched workplace safety reforms and closer study of the dangers of radioactivity.

Based on true events of the 1920’s, Radium Girls stars Emmy and Golden Globe nominee Joey King and Abby Quinn as Bessie and Jo Cavallo, sisters who dream of Hollywood and Egyptian pyramids as they work painting luminous watch dials at the American Radium factory in New Jersey. When Jo loses a tooth, Bessie’s world is turned upside down as a mystery slowly unravels. She discovers a corporate cover-up and, in a radical coming-of-age story, Bessie and the Radium Girls decide to take on American Radium. Based on historical events, the national sensation following the notorious case of the Radium Girls in 1928 ultimately led to significant and lasting impact in the area of workplace health and safety and the study of radioactivity.

Radium Girls marks the feature directorial debuts of Emmy-winning and Academy-Award nominated producer Lydia Dean Pilcher and filmmaker Ginny Mohler, who co-wrote the award-winning original screenplay for Radium Girls with Brittany Shaw. The film made its world premiere at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival.

Banner image courtesy of Juno Films

Possible Topics

  • The uses and dangers of radioactivity
  • Occupational health hazards
  • Nuclear power's place in a clean-energy future
  • The quest for nuclear fusion
  • The EPA and worker's rights

Past Programs


Radium: From cure-all to environmental hazard

Coolidge Corner Theatre, Brookline, MA


Cleaning environmental contamination

Salina Art Center, Salina, KS

Safe—and not so safe—uses for radiation

Ross Ragland Theater, Klamath Falls, OR


Living in the Plume of the Smelter

The Grand Cinema, Tacoma, WA