‘Spaceship Earth’ Director Matt Wolf on What Drew Him to Saga of Biosphere 2 (Video)

Sundance 2020: Doc tells the story of the eight men and women sealed inside Biosphere 2 in 1991

Director Matt Wolf said he was inspired to make his new documentary, “Spaceship Earth,” after seeing photographs of Linda Leigh and Mark Nelson in bright red jumpsuits in front of the massive early-1990s science experiment known as Biosphere 2.

“I was just doing research online and I saw these very compelling images of eight people including these two (Leigh and Nelson) in bright red jumpsuits in front of this enormous glass pyramid and I actually thought it was still from science fiction film and when I realized it was real,” Wolf told TheWrap’s Steve Pond at the Sundance Film Festival.

In 1991, eight men and women were sealed into Biosphere 2, an airtight terrarium in the Arizona desert containing a miniature replica of Earth’s environment. Funded by a Texas oil tycoon hoping to acquire licensable technologies for space colonization, the mission of Biosphere 2 was to maintain an isolated, sustainable environment for two years.

“It was a groundbreaking project to re-create a slice of planet Earth and investigate how biospheres operate,” Nelson explained. “And the premise was can we do it sustainably and in a beautiful, healthy way.”

But the project became a dystopian simulation of ecological crisis, after which a corporate consultant took over the venture — and disappeared the data. The investors designed Biosphere 2 to generate a lot of press, but little was revealed about the people who created it — until Wolf assembled his film with the help of archive material and present-day interviews with surviving Biospherians.

Watch the video with Wolf and the former Biosphere residents/scientists above.

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