Hot Docs 2015: The Visit Review

Nightvision

Extra Terrestrials have landed. Well, not really. But for the sake argument, let’s say they have. What would we do? How would we react? More importantly, who would be writing the press release?

The Visit takes this thought experiment and runs with it. Shot with first-person POV, we the audience take on the perspective of the outsider, as scientists, government and the military personnel answer questions about “our” landing on Earth with a bureaucratic frankness that sometimes borders on the absurd.

These discussions are interspersed with dream-like examinations of the encounter, feeling akin to the conclusion of Kubrick’s 2001 with its juxtaposition between the hazmat suited explorer and the almost Victorian settings of library rooms or the pointy walls of an anechoic chamber.

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The camera floats around in a dream-like fashion at times, while others it’s as still and penetrating. The participants (and the film) take the claims seriously, and there’s little here that’s overtly farcical. The Visit is a film with big, interesting ideas presented in a way that may not be inviting to all, but nonetheless is respectful both for its mission to provoke and to scratch at the surface of how such a profound moment in the history of our species would still, of course, result in us using our tools of rhetoric and diplomacy to try and communicate fairly our species’ innate contradictions and foibles.

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