SIFF: The Landing

Sat, Jun. 10th, 2017 07:53 am
scarlettina: (Default)
[personal profile] scarlettina
Last night's SIFF film: The Landing, a faux documentary about Apollo 18, the last moon mission. (Actually, Apollo 18 never happened. It was cancelled.) The film posits an unplanned landing not in the Pacific Ocean, but in China, and explores the question of how two of the three astronauts died. Was it the result of accidental poisoning, or were they murdered?

The filmmakers did a terrific job of nearly convincing me that all of this actually happened, of portraying what happens when mystery clouds an event, and how conspiracy theories are born. Some of the narrative was downright eerie, given talk of silent collusion with the Russians and putting people in charge who don't know what they're doing.

What adds verisimilitude is that the film started out as a short about the murder that was made 20 years ago. The filmmakers took that short, got all the actors together in the last two years and shot the documentary footage. What that means is that you've got the actors when they were young acting out the moon shot, and the actors when they're older talking about the shot as if it actually happened. It's incredibly clever.

The directors and some of the actors were on hand after the film to answer questions and they talked about their process. One of the two directors talked about his discomfort with the timing of the film's release given all the talk of fake news in the media these days. He talked about the ease with which they were able to make false things look true. They discussed how they made all the documentation--hours of photoshop. And they discussed how much of the more recent footage was improvised--no scripts, just the actors finding the characters again and talking about what happened all those years ago.

I don't know if this film will get a wide release, but I enjoyed it quite a bit. It had the feel of one of those conspiracy theory docs you see on History Channel. At the end, when the director polled the audience, the group was split between those who thought the surviving astronaut was a murderer and those who thought he didn't do it. If you get a chance to see it, I recommend it. Lots of fun.

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Note: I have two other SIFF films that I've yet to review. I'm skipping those for the moment because this one is still so fresh in my mind. Will get to those later. And I have one more film to see tomorrow before the festival ends.

Date: Sat, Jun. 10th, 2017 05:10 pm (UTC)
ironymaiden: (flaw)
From: [personal profile] ironymaiden
The fake news angle was my food-for-thought when I came out of the press screening. A lot of people were taken in, and the passholders are generally an educated, well-to-do crowd - lots of retired professionals, teachers/professors, small business owners. But a trusted source told them a thing. Their memory must just be faulty.

It was chilling, especially since none of them looked it up afterward. (It's the first thing I do after a historical or doc about something that's new to me.) Is it that they're too old to reach for their phone in search of info (not culturally adapted to think of having the library in their pocket /it's rude) or that they lack the curiosity or skepticism? I don't know, I just found myself feeling more terrified about the state of the world when the pickings are this easy.

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