Drenched in blue and treading in retro sneakers, it’s the first and (so it’s safe to say) “best ever” International Space Orchestra, fired up and ready to go. Sound the horns. We have lift off.

It’s a simple idea behind the International Space Orchestra, gather a group of space scientists with musical abilities (from NASA Ames Research Center, SETI, etc.) to develop and perform Ground Control: An Opera in Space, re-enacting the difficulties of mission control during Apollo 11.

London-based French experience designer Nelly Ben Hayoun, currently studying to become an astronaut http://youtu.be/bfQPm0xUcD8 decided to work up the idea and with her enthusiasm and charm won over astrophysicists. Drawing in musical favours from the likes of Bobby Womack, Damon Albarn and Penguin Café she manages to pull the Orchestra and Space Opera off.


ISO is a film about the way space inspires the imagination, and it was fun to hear Nelly Ben Hayoun, Orchestra Director at a special preview screening at The Electric Cinema in Birmingham. The film really captures the essence of hard work and dedication to important jobs at NASA, with documentary style footage it provokes a feeling of longevity; that the film will become an important part of history.

We were given insight into the roles of the individuals who play a huge part within NASA, and also snippets of their lives outside work, some workers play in bands such as the bluegrass band. Ralph Bach plays the Dobro, an unconventional orchestral instrument in the International Space Orchestra. Nelly wanted to make a place for everyone in the orchestra headed by Grammy award-winning composer Evan Price.
The film is abundant in back stories and award-worthy scenery around the work station, literally never seen before footage to those who don’t work there.

There is a confidential feel about this documentary that makes you feel like you are on the inside of operations and Nelly Ben Hayoun takes the time to explore the lives of these people. Take Matthew Linton, he had the choice of whether to get given a car in his teens and ride around and enjoy the freedom of the road or to take the cello, a companion of his ever since. “When I play, I like to play on the coast with my wife”. This is as beautiful as the sound he’s playing.

Passion is all there and the artistic side is evident in the dedication to the craft. Take Barbara Jo Navarro for instance, she has received numerous awards including the honorary NASA silver snoopy for hard work in the job. She has played the trumpet since 8th grade and has stayed in a band 20 years. Now a senior this just adds to the merit of accomplishment she has accumulated.

7/10  – An insightful documentary with in-depth focus on the lives of the people behind the scenes and true-to-life footage.

Director: Nelly Ben Hayoun http://www.nellyben.com/

Cast and crew can be found on: http://groundcontrol-opera.com/

Rating: U 2013, 57mins

Categories: Team V blog


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