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Library to offer sneak peek at new PBS miniseries “Chasing the Moon”

All are welcome to Deepwater Theater at 8 p.m. Sunday, June 30, to enjoy a free screening of a 50-minute clip from Part 2 of “Chasing the Moon,” a new television series celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969.

The six-hour documentary series highlights the 10-year space race odyssey from its earliest beginnings to the monumental achievement of the first lunar landing and beyond.

Ocracoke Library is an official PBS Books Library Engagement Program partner and will offer this screening as their first collaborative event with PBS. The screening will include an introduction to “Chasing the Moon” with discussion questions, complimentary refreshments and door prizes.

The program complements the library’s summer reading program, “A Universe of Stories,” in June and July for youth, but this program will appeal to adults and families.

“For the first time, we’ll have a summer reading program-themed event for the grown-ups,” said Sundae Horn, library manager.

“Chasing the Moon,” a film by Robert Stone, will premiere on PBS from 9 to 11 p.m. Monday to Wednesday, July 8 to 10. It will also be available for simultaneous online streaming at pbs.org.

“Chasing the Moon” reimagines the race to the moon for a new generation, upending much of the conventional mythology surrounding the effort. The three-part series recasts the Space Age as a fascinating stew of scientific innovation and PR savvy, political calculation and media spectacle, visionary impulses and personal drama.

With no narration and using only archival footage — including a visual feast of previously lost or overlooked material — the film features new interviews with a diverse cast of characters who played key roles in these historic events: astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Frank Borman and Bill Anders; Freeman Dyson, the renowned futurist and theoretical physicist; Sergei Khrushchev, the son of former Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev, who played a prominent role in the Soviet space program as a rocket engineer; Poppy Northcutt, the 25-year-old “mathematics whiz” who gained worldwide attention as the first woman to serve in the all-male bastion of NASA’s Mission Control; and Ed Dwight, the Air Force pilot selected by the Kennedy administration to train as America’s first black astronaut.

As the film reveals, the drive to land a man on the moon was fueled as much by politics as it was by technology and was a controversial undertaking during a volatile time.

“As a 10-year-old kid in England in July 1969, my mother woke me up in the middle of the night to watch two Americans set foot upon another world, the moon quite literally staring at us through the window above our television set,” said Stone about his film. “I’d recently seen Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey,’ and the one-two punch of those two intensely visceral experiences ignited a fire in my mind that’s stuck with me ever since.”

PART ONE: A Place Beyond the Sky begins in 1957 and tracks the early years of the space race as the United States struggles to catch up with the Soviet Union. The episode reveals breathtaking failures and successes of the nascent American space program and demonstrates the stakes and costs of reaching the moon.

PART TWO: Earthrise covers 1964 to 1968, four heady, dangerous years in the history of the space race, focusing on the events surrounding the Apollo 1 and Apollo 8 missions. As Americans moved through the 60s and reflect on the challenges ahead, many begin to wonder: What exactly is it going to take to beat the Soviets to the moon?

PART THREE: Magnificent Desolation, which covers 1969-1970, takes Americans to the moon and back. Dreams of space dramatically intersect with dreams of democracy on American soil, raising questions of national priorities and national identity. The final episode also considers what happens to scientific and engineering programs — and to a country — after ambitious national goals have been achieved.

 

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