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The Mars Generation Reignites Passion for The Stars

Thursday night the New Hampshire Film Festival welcomed The Mars Generation on the Music Hall Loft screen. The documentary, directed by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Barnett, produced by Austin Francalancia and Clare Tucker, focuses on a group of teenagers as they train at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center to one day continue humanity’s exploration of Mars. Barnett, who co-wrote the screenplay with Michael Mahaffie, held a Q&A session after the screening.

The Mars Generation features an array of legendary names in its cast, from astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson to TV host Bill Nye, to physicist Michio Kaku. Yet it is the self-titled ‘space nerds’ who form the heart of this film, lending it passion, humor, and wide-eyed optimism. Combining archival and present-day footage, The Mars Generation offers both a brief history of the space program and a reasonable hope for Mars exploration in 20 years. Today’s teenagers, the documentary claims, carry the true spirit of adventure that first sent humanity to the stars.

Barnett vwowed the critics with his first full length film Superheroes (2011) that won Theatrical Release Award at Slamdance Film Festival. Becoming Bulletproof, an intimate and compassionate chronicle of the life of disabled filmmakers, earned rave reviews and played in 40 countries as part of U.S. State Department cultural outreach program. During the Q&A session, Barnett, who is a New Hampshire native, spoke about the unifying theme of his work. “I love to find the underdog who has the potential to change the world,” said the filmmaker.

Michael Barnett, writer and producer
Michael Barnett, co-writer of The Mars Generation

The cast inspired many questions from the audience, including what it was like to interview Tyson. Barnett revealed that it took him almost a year to schedule a 30-minute meeting. However, the legendary astrophysicist became so engaged in conversation and so impressed with Barnett’s research, the interview lasted for hours. As for teenage space camp participants, the director shared that many of them came to the screening at the Sundance Film Festival. Older, more focused, they now pursue unique college paths meant to bring them one step closer to their dream – going to Mars.

Find The Mars Generation on Facebook.

For a full list of NHFF screenings and events, see the full Festival Schedule. Haven’t purchased your ticket to NHFF yet? It’s not too late – visit the Box Office.

By Evgeniya Dame

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