The Documentary Climate Refugees Immortalized in Lunar Time Capsule

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On Feb. 22, 2024, history was recorded when the Odysseus spacecraft landed on Earth’s moon. It marked the first time a private lander touched down on the surface, and saw an American craft return to the moon for the first time since 1972. Housed within the spacecraft is the Lunaprise time capsule with a collection of artifacts, including the award-winning documentary film Climate Refugees, directed by Michael P. Nash and produced by Nash and Head of Production Services for the School of Film/Video and special faculty in Theater Justin Hogan.

The Lunaprise time capsule, which will be permanently stationed on the moon, was curated by SpaceBlue aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. It’s a remarkable assembly of 222 masterpieces by luminaries like Vincent van Gogh, Rembrandt, Elvis, Bob Marley, and others. In the midst of these esteemed works, Climate Refugees finds its place etched into a nickel disk through a proprietary process designed to endure for billions of years. This mission seeks to encapsulate the essence of humanity’s experience on Earth, preserving it for future generations and possibly for extraterrestrial civilizations to uncover. “If our civilization goes under, it won’t be because of radical terrorism or nuclear proliferation, it will probably be because of climate change,” Hogan said.

Climate Refugees, the sole film curated into the Lunaprise mission, is a poignant exposé on the plight of people around the world displaced by climatically induced environmental disasters. The documentary features interviews with several of the 40 million climate refugees, scholars, and politicians, such as Nobel Peace Prize winner Professor Wangari Maathai, Senator John Kerry, and former Speakers of the House Nancy Pelosi and Newt Gingrich. Hogan added, “The fact that the message of this film will live for billions of years is a testament to the plight of these people and the efforts of all worldwide who made the project happen.”

About the making of the film, Hogan and Nash kept their environmental ethics at the forefront of production. “It was just the two of us,” Hogan said. “We traveled to countries and picked up local crew to keep our carbon footprint as low as possible.” Climate Refugees had its world premiere at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and was the centerpiece film at the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen that same year.

Additionally, the Lunaprise time capsule houses an art collection curated by SpaceBlue and director Nash, based on assets from Climate Refugees. An exhibition of the Climate Refugees art collection was held in New York City in September 2023, during Climate Week. Featured artwork includes the first lunar art stamp collection since Apollo 14. 

“I was recently asked what it felt like to be the first movie producer with a film on the moon,” Hogan said. While that is an incredible honor, what personally moves me more is that my wife, who was also a producer on the film and tragically passed away three years ago, is up there with me. Every time I look to the moon, I know a piece of Wendy is looking back. I could not dream of a more powerful in memoriam than that.”

An award-winning producer and writer, Hogan also chairs the CalArts Commission for Sustainability (CCS). Hogan has produced multiple projects distributed in all formats worldwide, with his films screening in more than 1,000 film festivals, including Sundance, Cannes, and Tribeca. Some of his films available to watch are Stanley’s Gig, Dirty Beautiful, Getting High, and The Spirit Game.

CalArts Wild Beast | Image by California Institute of the Arts
PUBLISHED BY Elizabeth McRae

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