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SXSW 2021: Lily overturns the world, subjects of desire, in search of planet B | Festivals and awards

It is not a bold statement to say that we have taken scientists for granted in recent times, especially in our pandemic of disinformation which has made belief more powerful than facts. Director Nathaniel Kahn recognizes this and tries to fight it, with his passionate and decidedly intellectual documentary.The hunt for planet BWhich, initially, concerns the engineering of the most powerful telescope to date, the James Webb Space Telescope. JWST, with its 18 large gold hexagons, will help us see further into space than we’ve ever done before, and understand what other planets are out there. This is true pioneering work, extended from what Galileo did hundreds of years ago, but with technology that has only improved through collaborations.

But beyond the focus on the telescope, Kahn has assembled a touching and incredibly pure profile on this “collective genius” that led to these breakthroughs. Kahn speaks to astronomers across the country about their passion for finding intelligent life, and often introduces them to activities unrelated to their space work: their hobbies are used as poignant reflections of their passion, like the engineer in leader that compares the mark or -interrupted use of the telescope with progression in weightlifting. “The Hunt for Planet B” is about – and sometimes even imagines – what one would find on other planets, but is based on its account of the many people who dedicate their lives to this science. We don’t often have such a personal view of these influential minds.

Kahn’s passion for these people, and their minds, is contagious, although the doc himself keeps a bit of a dry tone when he wants to document these people, who are from everywhere and from diverse backgrounds, and their work. , while contemplating the creation of the telescope throughout the duration of the film. It’s more about being a fan – Kahn can often be heard asking questions about his subjects (off camera, and more than a regular documentary) and he broadcasts our curiosities about what these brilliant minds are up to and tries to figure out how they can be. so determined about it. Their dreams are for the benefit of our planet, and Kahn’s documentary helps us step back and remind ourselves how essential science is to progress.

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