Exclusive first look at Nelly Ben Hayoun’s expectedly bonkers new film, Doppelgangers³
With a soundtrack by Pussy Riot, and featuring on this year’s SXSW experimental documentary lineup, the film looks at space exploration from alternative perspectives.
- 8 February 2024
- Jenny Brewer
Creative powerhouse Nelly Ben Hayoun-Stépanian is back with a bang. Today she has shared the trailer for her radical new documentary feature exclusively on It’s Nice That, ahead of its SXSW premier. Doppelgangers³ is billed as a “visual and sonic experience” with music by Pussy Riot it dives into the heady topic of space exploration. As the sector becomes increasingly commercialised, Nelly (and her two co-star “doppelgangers” Lucia Kagramanyan, a DJ from Yerevan, and Myriam Amroun, a cultural producer and curator from Algiers) ask if we’re doomed to make the same mistakes on the moon as we have on Earth. The film has been made with support from the Sundance Institute and BFI Doc Society.
While the space industry plays host to big business and is supposedly therefore more ‘democratised’, Nelly says it remains accessible only to a select few. “Current missions seem to offer a limited approach to future visions in space,” says a release from Nelly’s studio, “with concepts such as extraction, ‘colonisation’, capitalisation and a repetition of historical actions on Earth being proposed as the future of humanity in space.”
Doppelgangers³ sees the designer interview NASA scientists, neuroscientists, space mission specialists and trauma specialists, with the provocation: what if we make a plan for the moon that includes voices from the periphery, and nations that have known the perils of a colonialist mindset firsthand? Nelly, herself of Armenian and Algerian descent, says her own family’s experience is one of “constant movement and displacement”. So the film creatively portrays non-linear narratives, the latest developments in quantum physics and historical arcs of immigration and colonisation.
In the film, three stories unite different locations in the formulation of a supposed utopian community. Nelly also visits a space training site run by Astroland Interplanetary Agency – a deep cave in Spain where astronauts are trained to live in close quarters and to explore the unpredictable and the unknown.
Doppelgangers³ is showing as part of SXSW’s Feature Documentary, Vision category in March, which promotes innovative filmmaking in the docu format. Alongside the release, Nelly and her team will create a series of live events and debates on decolonising the space sector. The project is also part of a paper which will be presented at the International Astronautical Congress in October 2024.
Doppelgängers³: A film by Nelly Ben Hayoun-Stépanian – poster