Principal Cast: Matt Johnson, Owen Williams, Josh Boles
Premiering at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and screening at SXSW, Hot Docs and TIFF, this comedic and thrilling “simulated documentary” from Canadian director Matt Johnson (The Dirties) follows two undercover CIA agents who become embroiled in a plot to stick it to the Russians by faking footage of an American moon landing.
Combining archival material, digital manipulation, and found footage, Operation Avalanche is a witty and ultimately moving journey through one of the most hotly debated moments in American history. Using their own names, Johnson and co-star Owen Williams (The Dirties) play two young film buffs who are improbably recruited by the CIA to help sniff out a suspected Soviet mole within NASA. Posing as an amateur film crew making a documentary, the pair infiltrates the space agency to discover that the Apollo 11 moon mission is far behind schedule— which gives the Soviets a decided edge in the Space Race.
On their own initiative, the brash duo decides to fabricate footage of an American landing in order to score a propaganda coup, and seek the aid of a professional filmmaker who has sourced NASA technology in order to make a forthcoming science-fiction epic tentatively titled A Space Odyssey.
Wryly funny, darkly perceptive, and consistently entertaining, Operation Avalanche garnered serious buzz for the story behind the making of the film: to shoot their “faux documentary,” Johnson and company actually snuck into NASA by pretending to be student filmmakers. This stunning authenticity, as well as the meticulous (and digitally enhanced) attention to period detail, is put in the service of a gripping story that compels us to interrogate our relationships to media, the government and, ultimately, those closest to us.
- Directed by Matt Johnson
- Produced by Matthew Miller, Lee Kim, Matt Johnson
- Written by Matt Johnson, Josh Boles
- Starring Matt Johnson, Owen Williams, Josh Boles
- Music by Jay McCarrol
- Cinematography: Andy Appelle Jared Raab
- Edited by Curt Lobb
- Release date: January 22, 2016 (Sundance Film Festival)
- Running time: 94 minutes
- Country: Canada, United States
- Language: English