A review of UFO documentary A Tear in The Sky unexpectedly turned out to be the most popular review of the month on this website; there’s clearly a lot of interest out there in who or what might be visiting our planet. Sure, there’s plenty of filler docs all over your streaming services, but many of them are just clip-reels of murky public domain footage; if the truth is out there, there has to be some compelling documentary material to engage those who want to believe.
Randall Nickerson’s Ariel Phenomenon is exactly what you might hope for; a detailed, credible and thought-provoking look at a mysterious incident back in 1994 that’s hard to explain away, although there’s no actual primary footage to analyse or discredit. Over sixty schoolchildren in Zimbabwe claim to have witnessed a space-ship land, and described two figures whose faces were white and eyes were black. They’re very much the kind of creatures that we’ve seen in fiction, but it’s hard to rationalise exactly what happened; the children’s accounts are remarkably similar but not so much as to suggest any kind of collusion.
A Tear in The Sky highlighted the social stigma about claiming to be the witness to a UFO sighting, or a UAP (Unidentified Ariel Phenomenon) as we call them today. Ariel Phenomenon doubles down on this by featuring Harvard professor Dr John Mack, and BBC war reporter Tim Leach, pragmatic experts who suffered considerable ignominy for admitting that they couldn’t explain what the children saw. Mack is heavily featured here, patiently interviewing the children and unable to dismiss their accounts; sadly both men died comparatively young, and can’t contribute in anything other than archive material, but in their original interviews they speak well for themselves.
Ariel Phenomenon also feels a little like an alternative version of Michael Apted’s 28 Up, in which we return to the children as adults, and in particular artist Emily Trim who returns to Zimbabwe to meet up with her old teachers and return to the site of the event. Like Mack and Leach, she finds her interest in the UFO/UAP subject risks ridicule, but this film takes a sober approach that adds credibility to what primary sources offer. My readers will know that it’s easy to scoff, and I often do when the source material is weak. But with no less an august figure as UFO expert Dan Aykroyd offering his praise for Ariel Phenomenon, it’s well worth a recommend to those inclined to watch.
Premiering and for purchase at arielphenomenon.com