“Space Tourists” Film Maker Describes Project

Popuar Mechanics has an interesting interview with Christian Frei, the director of the Space Tourists documentary who was honored at the Sundance Film Festival last week.

Frei describes what it was like to make the film, which centered around billionaut Anousheh Ansari’s trip to the International Space Station. He had some kind words for the protagonist of his film:

She’s such an incredible protagonist because she had a dream. She was born in Iran, and she would sleep on the balcony of her grandparent’s house and gaze up at the stars. And she told her parents, “One day I will be up there. I will go to space.” And of course her parents were like, “Yeah, yeah, okay.” And 35 years later, after becoming a self-made billionaire, she called her parents and told them, “Guess what? I’m really going!” She really had this dream, and she’s so committed, she’s an incredible human being.

Frei also described the difficulties he experienced in filming scrap metal dealers who recover spent Soyuz boosters on the Kazakhstan steppes. The practices of Soviet Communism are alive and well in modern Russia:

It was so difficult because the Russian authorities, they let me research the whole thing, but then all of a sudden they told me, “You can film, but you’re not allowed to film these alcoholics”—their word—”we want to stage the work of the collectors with our secret service and soldiers putting on overalls”—which the collectors never do—”and helmets and gloves.” And I was like, “What?! This is not reality. This is not how it really happens.” And they said, “Yes, we know, but that’s how we want it to be filmed.” This is the Russian way of dealing with the media. It’s the good old Communist tradition. They tell you how to present something, and if you argue and say, “This is not like that,” they say, “It’s true, it’s not like that, but that’s the way we want to be presented. And if it’s not that way, you can’t film it.” So I said no to this offer, because this is against my ethical principles.

Read the full interview.