Sputnik Mania | Screen | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Sputnik Mania

Documentary recounts the year the Space race began.

On Oct. 4, 1957, the Soviets amazed the world by successfully launching a small satellite named "Sputnik" that began orbiting Earth. The Space Race – and its darker corollary, building weapons to be potentially deployed in space – was on, as the United States rushed to catch up. David Hoffman's documentary charts the year that followed Sputnik's launch, a time that found ordinary people variously awed and terrified by space technology, while in Moscow and Washington, D.C., a deadly brinksmanship rushed ahead. Stitched together from archival footage and contemporary interviews, Hoffman effectively lays out how extraordinary – and potentially dangerous – the watershed post-Sputnik year was. Modern audiences can also marvel over: kids urged to build rockets (described by one former enthusiast as "pipe bombs with fins"); home bomb-shelters; and the publicity perils of sending a cute dog into orbit. An obvious highlight here is recently released Soviet footage of Sputnik and other projects (plus some hilarious anti-U.S. propaganda) that lets Hoffman fill in the story from both sides. Starts Fri., Aug. 15, through Sun., Aug. 17. Melwood (AH)

Ephemeral art made at Chalk Fest
25 images

Ephemeral art made at Chalk Fest

By Pam Smith