Regional film festivals all over the world need to take notice of how the Sarasota Film Festival does its thang. First of all, the opening night film, David Sington‘s brilliant In the Shadow of the Moon, was fantastic and Tom Hall, director of programming for this fest isn’t the only one who’s noticed. Festival programmers all over the country are opening their events with this film and the audience here was rapturous.
A compelling, moving and enlightening account of the Apollo space program told from the point of view of the astronauts who took part, In the Shadow of the Moon is the adult film for the 10 year-old “when I grow up, I’m gonna be a asta-naut!” inside us all. The film is further proof that there are still stories to be told, considering that there had, as yet, not been a film strictly about the Apollo program, narrative or doc. Rife with heretofore unseen footage from NASA’s archives, including footage shot by astronauts on the moon, the film is far more than a rote an accounting of the Apollo program. The personal accounting of the program and their missions by the 10 astronauts makes for compelling viewing, especially when Apollo 11 Command Module Pilot Michael Collins recounts what it was like being alone in the spacecraft while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin where making their famous moonwalk.
Present at the fest was Dr. Edgar Mitchell, the 6th man to walk on the moon and when he walked out on the stage following the screening, the awe in the crowd was palpable. Mitchell, along with the rest of the interviewees in the film, were clearly changed by their trips into space, with many of them latching on to how changed they were by the experience of seeing the Earth from space. This change in perspective has had a profound effect on those few lucky enough to have experienced space flight and Mitchell, Aldrin, Collins, et al. are wonderful guides through this experience.
Some shrewd marketing and great word of mouth (the Sarasota audience ate it up) should guide this film to good box office and super DVD sales.
Photos: Top-True/False Film Festival’s David Wilson and In the Shadow of the Moon director David Sington ©Mark Rabinowitz, bottom Courtesy of NASA