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In theory, Space Tourists should be nearly as fascinating as images from the Hubble Space Telescope. In execution, it’s a disorganized snooze. But sometimes that’s what happens when only one person wears the producer’s, director’s, and editor’s hats, in this case Oscar-nominated documentarian Christian Frei. The film takes a look at Russia’s citizen-cosmonaut program, which allows regular ol’ rich folks to take the third seat on the country’s space shuttle for $20 million, approximately half the cost of the flight. The opening chapters of the doc are irritatingly narrated by a random Kazakh photographer—this is the back story. Then comes the fun stuff: Anousheh Ansari, an Iranian-American businesswoman who always dreamed about going to space, achieved her goal in 2006. There’s footage of her training (stuff that will make you dizzy) and footage of her experience (stuff that will make you giggle, such as when she washes her hair or races gravity-freed Ping-Pong balls on a loop). And, of course, shots of space, including Ansari’s view of a world “without borders or problems.” But overall, her story comprises only a fraction of Space Tourists. The rest is rather tedious, with too much time given to, for instance, the guys who salvage the shuttle pieces that fall to earth or a Romanian who tries to piece together a rocket with what looks like metal scraps and garbage bags. Save yourself this trip.
At 5 p.m. at AFI Silver Theater 1; also on Thursday, June 24, at 1:30 p.m. at AFI Silver Theater 3.