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Fantasia 2020

[Fantasia] ‘The Prophet and the Space Aliens’ review: Religion meets UFOs without Scientology

It’s not what you think.

Documentaries about a religious leader that believes humanity was created by aliens is always interesting. Scientology has such a sordid and mysterious history it is fascinating by default. There have been many documentaries and series that have visited the secretive sect. Alien visitation is arguably the least interesting thing Scientologists believe in.

But what if that religion is not Scientology?

Despite its fantastic title, The Prophet and the Space Aliens is about more than a UFO cult. Making its North American premiere at the Fantasia Film Festival, the documentary is about the importance of faith. Using up close and a surprising amount of access, director Yoav Shamir gets up close and personal with an odd religion. Along the way, he also tries to examine why people believe in the things they do.

Shamir obviously went into the documentary with the best of intentions. The Prophet and the Space Aliens looks at Rael, the prophet of the title. The religion he leads (Raelian, naturally) is one that preaches open mindedness and forward thinking. They are open to everybody and do not judge anyone’s lifestyle. It is almost surprising it only has around 100,000 followers.

[Fantasia] 'The Prophet and the Space Aliens' review: Religion meets UFOs without Scientology

Shamir does not go for the low hanging fruit and treats the subject seriously. This includes talk about repairing the female clitoris at a place Raelians built called the Pleasure Hospital. Instead, The Prophet and the Space Aliens interviews various Raelians to learn what initially drew them to the religion and why they remain. These talks include people from impoverished villages and doctors.

As it becomes clear that Rael is not as honest as he first let on, Shamir debates what he should do. This part of The Prophet and the Aliens may be the highlight of the documentary. After examining the lengths people will go to when they believe, the tone switches to how far a nonbeliever will go to expose someone. It is naturally built into the narrative and presents an interesting dichotomy.

The Prophet and the Aliens is a breezy look at the Raelian religion. The documentary looks at why people believe so passionately in what would many consider to be a  far fetched religion. Along the way, it also explores why some do not believe. In the end, the film touches on someone everyone can understand. The notion of finding the answer to “why?”

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