Space films have made global headlines this month as the Russians started making a film in space just before the announcement of a Hollywood project with actor Tom Cruise, NASA and SpaceX. On 5 October, two actors and a director took off on a Soyuz rocket to join two Russians and several other astronauts, including Americans, at the International Space Station in order to shoot The Challenge, the first movie in space.
However few know that a space film called Matryoshka was made in Malaga about seven years ago, albeit with weightlessness skillfully imitated, and was also about an emergency in space.
It focused on two women astronauts and the agonising moments they experienced on the space ship when vital decisions had to be made within seconds. Malaga filmmaker Fran Kapilla, made this first Spanish space movie in Russian. He told SUR in English he chose this language because Russia was traditionally successful in space flights. However Fran was also inspired by women in space including the British astronaut Helen Sharman who made history by travelling as a member of the Soviet crew to the Soviet space station MIR, 30 years ago.
The traditional Russian wooden doll the matryoshka, became the title of the film because Fran found many similarities between humans in space and the set of dolls of different sizes placed one inside the other. In his movie the two women are shown during the crucial moment of the mission: in a damaged spacecraft, in constrictive spacesuits and fighting to maintain control of the situation.
Fran's film is based on a part scientific and part documentary plot. The space crew started out from the space centre Baikonur in Kazakhstan (just as the Russian movie crew did on 5 October).
Fran stresses that before he started writing, he had to read and study lots of books and watched many documentaries about flights from the Soviet cosmodrome in order to precisely recreate that time. He had lots of advisors both abroad and from Malaga including the Malaga Astronomical Society.
“By the way, I should comment that the movie started with a shot of a helmet; a genuine helmet with the lettering CCCP was bought in Russia. The spacesuits were also genuine and donated by an Andalusian collector” he added.
The Soviet atmosphere was recreated in Malaga, the restaurant Limonar 40 became the Moscow Chess Club. As for the scene with the old aeroplane, it was an original shot of an old Finnish plane located at Malaga airport.
The Soyuz spaceship - made in Malaga - was constructed of wood and metal. It was filled with cables, machines, measuring devices and computers taken from the old plane.
“This section of the spaceship you can now find at the Aeronautical Museum of Malaga but the on-board chemical laboratory was made with help of computer graphics and by supervising scientists from the Biology faculty of Malaga University” Fran explained.
For more authenticity, Fran made a brave decision to shoot the movie in Russian. The filmmaker stresses that it was quite a challenge. Fran doesn't speak this language as well as the group and most of the actors didn't know it either. However, from the very beginning the film was subtitled in Spanish and later was given English subtitles as well.