Famed astronomer and astrophysicist Carl Sagan once said, "I didn't know what other worlds looked like until I saw Bonestell's paintings of the solar system." On April 2nd, the winner of two "Best Documentary" awards, "Chesley Bonestell: A Brush with the Future" will screen at Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. as part of their ongoing tribute to NASA's Apollo Space Program.
When it comes to the preservation and display of American achievements in aviation and space history, The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. has no peer. This made it the perfect setting to screen the award-winning film, Chesley Bonestell: A Brush with the Future, as part of the museum's tribute to the Apollo Program.
If you're new to the name Chesley Bonestell (1888-1986), you're not alone. For decades, his breathtaking paintings of planets and stars have taken viewers through and beyond our solar system. Dubbed "The Father of Space Art," Bonestell has been called the world's most influential space artist and credited as quiet force behind the creation of America's space program.
"Having our film presented at The Smithsonian as part of a salute to our country's greatest achievement was an extraordinary honor. Chesley Bonestell's role in the exploration of The Final Frontier is a forgotten part of our history. Here was a man who helped us get to the moon and beyond, not with technology but with a paintbrush," said Producer/Writer/Director Douglass M. Stewart, Jr.
Chesley Bonestell: A Brush with the Future is the first film ever made about Bonestell and features rare interviews with him, along with legendary filmmakers such as Douglas Trumbull (2001: A Space Odyssey) and Star Wars veterans Ben Burtt, Craig Barron and Richard Edlund, as well as numerous others who personally knew Bonestell or were influenced by his art.
"There isn't an artist that's painting today in the science fiction fantasy field who didn't start with Chesley Bonestell," says legendary science fiction author Ray Bradbury in the film's trailer found at their website.
Bonestell led an extraordinary life and found himself in the middle of legendary undertakings more than once. "In addition to being an artist, Chesley Bonestell was a gifted architect and lent his talents to such historic projects as the Chrysler Building and the Golden Gate Bridge," says Adler Planetarium's Dr. Lucianne Walkowicz who appears in the film.
Bonestell's architectural skills created movie magic when he moved to Hollywood, where his iconic matte paintings appeared in film classics like Citizen Kane, The Fountainhead, Destination Moon and The War of the Worlds. Bonestell joined forces with rocket scientist Willy Ley and illustrated The Conquest of Space (1949), a best-selling book that inspired Americans to not only reach for the stars but to explore them as well.
Following the Smithsonian screening, an audience Q&A took place with Producer/Director/Writer Douglass M. Stewart, Jr. and the film's Co-Producers Ron Miller, renowned space artist and author of more than fifty books about art, science and space, and Melvin Schuetz, Bonestell historian and author of A Chesley Bonestell Space Art Chronology.
Both gentlemen collaborated with Frederick C. Durant III (former Assistant Director of Astronautics at the Air & Space Museum) to produce the Hugo Award-winning book, The Art of Chesley Bonestell, considered to be the definitive book on the works and life of Mr. Bonestell. Dr. Michael Neufeld, a Senior Curator of the Space History Department at the Smithsonian, will introduce the film.
At that time, he offered an update on the status of a ten foot by forty foot lunar mural by Bonestell that the National Air and Space Museum received from the Museum of Science in Boston in 1976. Bonestell's "Lunar Mural" has been undergoing a delicate restoration process.
At the conclusion of the film, Dr. Neufeld also moderated the Q&A.
Coinciding with the start of Cherry Blossom Season, Chesley Bonestell: A Brush With The Future was screened at the Smithsonian – Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater in Washington, D.C. on April 2, 2019 at 7:30pm. You may still view the film's trailer at the Smithsonian website.
Chesley Bonestell: A Brush with the Future was named Best Documentary at the 2019 Boston Science Fiction Film Festival and 2018 San Diego Comic-Con, as well as winning a coveted Audience Award at the 2018 Newport Beach Film Festival. The current issue of Filmfax magazine (#153) features a cover story containing seven pages about the film. You can learn more about this award-winning documentary at www.chesleybonestell.com.