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still Spaceship Earth (Matt Wolf, US 2020)

Spaceship Earth

Matt Wolf / US, 2020 / 113 min.

Was it a foolish hippy experiment, applied biology or art? Eight young adventurers were locked into a hermetically sealed replica of planet earth’s ecosystem, Biosphere 2. The only outside influence, the sun streaming into the dome.

poster Spaceship Earth (Matt Wolf, US 2020)

In 1991, eight young ‘biospherians’, followers of charismatic activist John Allen, the pan’s spiritual father, allowed themselves to be locked into a gigantic glass dome. Under it lay various ecosystems, including a tropical rainforest, a tropical ocean with reef, a desert and a savannah featuring hundreds of carefully curated organisms.

For two years, the eight Americans were to conduct scientific experiments and trials aiming to establish which influence humanity has on its environment. Soon however, the group was simply trying to survive: CO2 emissions were rising, the harvests were poor and the experiment didn’t meet scientific standards. After two years the now emaciated, exhausted participants emerged from the biosphere.

Matt Wolf’s documentary is the sober opposite of SF film Silent Running (1971, Douglas Trumbull), in which a botanist in a spaceship puts it all on the line to save the last surviving plants from planet earth. John Allen’s dream was to make other planets inhabitable for humans using biosphere-like domes.

This is part of

Special screenings



Matt Wolf

Production year




Original title

Spaceship Earth


113 min.





Part of

Cinema Ecologica

Much in life is uncertain, but one thing is sure: climate change. Cinema Ecologica focuses on how film directors depict the relationship between humanity and the earth: from nail-biting disaster films to artistic meditations, from romantic nature experiences to astounding science fiction.

Learn more
campaign image Cinema Ecologica

Why in Eye

“Matt Wolf’s documentary shows the prototype of a self-sufficient society, making every vegetable garden, solar panel or green roof seem insignificant.” - Anna Abrahams, programmer

still Spaceship Earth (Matt Wolf, US 2020)
still Spaceship Earth (Matt Wolf, US 2020)
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