The Hot Docs Festival is ten days longs and features over 100 documentary films.
In The Shadow Of The Moon kicked off the festival last night. I was fortunate enough to be there courtesy of the Press Pass I obtained through work. I plan to make good use of it by seeing as many films as I can.
In The Shadow of the Moon was not amongst the numerous films I've diligently circled in the festival program as a 'must see'. However, I am very pleased I did.
The film features nine of the American astronauts who were part of NASA's Apollo missions to the moon in the 1960s and 1970s. The film's primary focus is on Apollo XI's first successful moon landing and it did a fantastic job of capturing the tension and excitement of that history making time. The archival footage from the missions is awe inspiring, hence actually awesome.
However, what truly made this film fabulous for me wasn't the magnitude of what was accomplished, it was the brilliant way the Director (David Sington) intermingled other elements from the astronauts' perspectives including equally historical events and personal accounts.
The film acknowledged that at the same time as the moon missions in the wider world there was the Vietnam War, and the rise of the Human Rights and Women's movements. The astronauts' talked about their guilt that their friends were fighting in Vietnam and commented on how insulated they were from the activities of the social movements.
Most of all, my very favourite element of the film was the astronauts themselves, as each of them are charismatic and very funny. For example, Buzz Aldrin confessed that although Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon, he Buzz, was the first to take a pee. Another astronaut when addressing the conspiracy theories that they never went to the moon at all, looked at the camera and emphatically said "OK, so if we were gong to fake it, why do it nine times, once would have been enough". Another astronaut said he delighted at the idea that he was made of 'The Right Stuff' even if he didn't really believe it.
The film wraps with the environmental message that our world is so fragile and that we shouldn't destroy it because there is no where else to go. The Director during question time later added that all of the astronauts get very impatient that it's taking everyone else so long to realize just how important this is.
From an entirely personal perspective, I wasn't born when man first walked on the moon so I have always taken it for granted that it had been done. My knowledge was so vague on the topic that I didn't know exactly what year it happened and wasn't even sure whether JFK had been assassinated or not prior (at least I am honest in my ignorance). Therefore, seeing this film was both educational and highly entertaining.
I would encourage everyone else to circle it in their programs as a film to see.