In this first feature documentary about the Ariel School UFO incident,
Ariel Phenomenon explores an African extraterrestrial encounter witnessed by over sixty schoolchildren in 1994. As a Harvard professor, a BBC war reporter, and past students investigate, they struggle to answer the question: “What happens when you experience something so extraordinary that nobody believes you?”
Fourteen years ago, when I first saw the archival interviews with the Ariel School students, conducted by Harvard professor Dr. Mack, I was fascinated by the authenticity of the children. I ended up journeying three times to Zimbabwe and southern Africa, and also to the U.K, Canada, and around the U.S., to interview people who were at the Ariel School (and the surrounding region) on that day.
My team and I have dug up every type of primary document and media we could find, and it has grown into its current form: a feature-length documentary travelogue, journeying back to Africa while following the paths of individuals whose lives were entwined with the event.
We made the conscious decision to avoid narration or unrelated interviews. The story belongs to the Ariel School community. We didn't use special effects because this is a real story, made with real footage - no recreations.
I don’t know what happened on that day in 1994. But I do believe that in this current era, we need to take a real look at this phenomena – whatever it may turn out to be.
If you subtract the UFO element, this film is simply about the human experience of dealing with, and having to keep secret, a traumatic event that invites judgment. The people who are followed in this film face a universal dilemma - the need to be heard and recognized.
That’s something that’s happening on many levels in our society today: people finding the courage to speak out.
-Randall Nickerson, Director
Who We Are
From Right: Randall Nickerson, Rebecca Rideout, Christopher Seward, Rikk Desgres (not pictured: Anne Krzanowski)