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EIFF 2013: ‘Lunarcy!’ is an affectionate, witty documentary about colonising the moon

EIFF 2013: ‘Lunarcy!’ is an affectionate, witty documentary about colonising the moon

Lunarcy! 2012

Directed by Simon Ennis
Canada, 2012

Simon Ennis’s Lunarcy! is an affectionate, knowing documentary that looks at a diverse group of individuals who share an obsession with the moon. The star of the piece is Christopher Carson, whose enterprise, The Luna Project, is aimed at kick-starting the process of moon colonisation. Armed with the slogan, Luna City or Bust!, he travels to science fiction conventions, high schools – anywhere he might find a disproportionate number of geeks – spreading the word and raising money to get his project off the ground. If this was a dramatic film, he would have to be played by a young Jeffrey Combs – he has that combination of weird wit and obscure intelligence – but is a lot more self-aware than he initially appears.

Another man working towards lunar colonisation is Peter Kokh, who is not particularly keen to live there himself (unless he can take his dog), but is deeply interested in the practicalities behind it. What is fascinating about him is the way he approaches the idea, taking the things that he considers essential to human life, such as music, art and housing, and considering how they could work on the moon. There are also extended interviews with Alan Bean, the fourth man on the moon who now paints with moondust, and Dennis Hope, who absurdly claims legal ownership of our only natural satellite, selling plots of land to people from all over the world.

It is extremely funny, with plenty of little jokes and inventive use of sci-fi style text, including punctuation marks for emphasis! At times, it is difficult to tell how sincere the characters are, whether Ellis is laughing at them, them at him or everyone is laughing together. It is mischievously edited, and there is a great scene where one speaker is made to look like the biggest lunar-tic of all, before we realise he is saying something completely different. The film also makes good use of archive footage and the quirky score adds to the farcical mood, which is sustained from beginning to end. The tone might put a few people off – it can be slightly in-jokey – but ultimately it’s just harmless fun.

Lunarcy! does get you to laugh at these people, but never mocks them, and eventually gives an insight into the motivations behind their passion. The Space Race created a generation of dreamers and its gradual decline has left a massive void. Things like holidays to the moon, which were promised in the 1960s, are now little more than an outlandish fantasy, placing the documentary’s subjects well outside the normal realms of society. They are mostly shown to be creative, inventive, wonderfully odd people, and we do root for them. Perhaps the best moment, the mention of fornicating man-bats aside, is when Christopher gives a presentation at a laser show for high school kids and wins them over with his enthusiasm. Perhaps because they are forced to listen, they engage.

Rob Dickie

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