"The moon landing is the greatest movie ever made." ¹
VIFF 2016—Operation Avalanche is fake period documentary aiming to comically rewrite the Apollo 11 moon landing as a would be hoax accidentally concocted by a team of bumbling junior CIA agents and budding filmmakers. The Canadian production is an ambitious and often hilarious comedy/thriller take on historical fiction and conspiracy theories.
Directed by, co-written, and starring The Dirties filmmaker Matt Johnson (playing "himself"), the mockumentary makes great use of archival footage, cinematic tricks, and real-life interviews with NASA officials. Owen Williams co-stars (also as "himself") as the duo improvise their way the film shooting on real locations including NASA's Houston complex and Mission Control in order get an authentic feeling.
The film clearly sends up the ridiculous theories about the moon landing being faked even bringing Stanley Kubrick as a character and his 2001: A Space Odyssey production (clearly, a big influence). The 1960s details and era appropriate filmmaking consistently highlight the film's visual effects and aesthetic.
It's a strange but effective love letter to the act and art of cinema while referencing the wonder of achieving your dreams and looking to the stars. It's less effective when it veers into conventional action, car chases, and clichéd conspiracy thriller plotlines. However, it's quite an achievement of low budget, found footage, documentary-style filmmaking.
Operation Avalanche is ultimately a playful celebration of both the power of cinema and aspirations of space travel. Johnson lovingly paints his film with such period detail, comic silliness, and historical admiration throughout every frame. It's a clever, genuinely funny, and amusing film about the power inspiration and filmmaking.
Weirdos screened at the 2016 Vancouver International Film Festival as part of the Altered States series.
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