Soundtrack Out Now Via Sony Music's The Orchard

About the Film

In this first feature documentary about the Ariel School UFO incident,

Ariel Phenomenon explores a close encounter witnessed by over sixty schoolchildren  outside their schoolyard in Zimbabwe.

Over twenty-five years later, this incident is still fresh in students’ memories.

They continue to search for answers — and the courage to speak their truth.

A young woman returns to her school in rural Zimbabwe — the place that, at the age of nine, shattered her reality.

We meet a respected BBC war reporter who reluctantly covered the event, ultimately leading him to risk his career on the one story that haunted him the most.

Jeopardizing his reputation is Pulitzer Prize-winning Harvard psychiatrist Dr. John Mack, whose validation of the witnesses made this mass-sighting impossible to ignore.

The Making of Ariel Phenomenon

Randall Nickerson at Ariel School in 2008

Nickerson filming in Zimbabwe, 2012

Nickerson’s wildlife photography – more here.

After researching the location of the Ariel School and visiting Zimbabwe for the first time in 2008, director Randall Nickerson contacted witnesses now living all around the world. He traveled three times to Zimbabwe and Southern Africa to film interviews, follow a past student as she returns to Zimbabwe, and to film landscape and wildlife cinematography.

Archival tapes, articles, audio: Director Randall Nickerson & team collected dozens of primary sources for the film. Even the call by BBC Tim Leach to Dr. John Mack is a recording Leach made of the voicemail left for Dr. Mack.

The team followed witness Emily Trim on a journey back to Zimbabwe as the storyline for the film.

Then the team got to work weaving the film together, from hundreds and hundreds of hours of footage.

What do ‘Sicko’, ‘Fahrenheit 911’, the SXSW Grand Jury-winning ‘People’s Republic of Desire’, the Sundance Grand Jury-winning ‘One Child Nation’ & ‘Ariel Phenomenon’ have in common? They all had Christopher Seward on board! Christopher joined the team as Writer and Lead Editor on the film.

Soaring music was composed by Nathaniel Walcott of the band Bright Eyes & composer of Fault in Our Stars, and Henrik Astrom of The Vikings series and The Stand, as well as tracks from Blue Dot Music – all now available in our soundtrack on all platforms worldwide, with Sony Music’s The Orchard!

In addition to a 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes for over a year and running, and 4.6/5 stars on Amazon since the release, the film is bringing conversation and light to a topic too long stigmatized and left in the dark.