Fantastic Fest 2013 Review: Mirage Men (2013)

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Directors: John Lundberg, Roland Denning, Kypros Kyprianou
Country: UK
Genre: Documentary
Official Trailer: Here


Editor’s Notes: The following review is part of our coverage of Fantastic Fest 2013. For more information on the festival visit http://fantasticfest.com and follow Fantastic Fest on Twitter at @fantasticfest.

If you’re a child of the 70s or 80s you will recall many stories overheard regarding Roswell: stories of crashed UFOs, captured aliens and actual video footage of UFOs. There was a TV show named Roswell! Imagine X-Files without Roswell-inspired episodes. What if someone came along and told you that the sightings and stories were all part of USA counter-intelligence designed to cover up top-secret military aircraft?

The directing team (John Lundberg, Roland Denning and Kypros Kyprianou) treats their subjects with great care. The premise of the story is laid out nicely and the stories from all involved supports a middle ground, allowing the audience to choose what to believe.

Mirage Men tells the story of Rick Doty, a man tasked with planting false information in order to fuel wild UFO stories. The men who spoke of UFO sightings were dismissed because their theories were out of this world. Some of these men had actual video, photos and recordings of odd behavior coming from Roswell. What these men didn’t know is that they were unknowingly documenting top-secret American military aircraft. Make no mistake, these men weren’t a bunch of “yahoos.” These men were brilliant and scientific in their approach.

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During the cold war, intelligence was everything and the USA couldn’t allow this information to be released. The man who intercepted the most information was a civilian named Paul Bennewitz. Doty became close friends with Bennewitz, eventually driving Bennewitz insane due to the amount of false information that Doty provided. Bennewitz took the bait and ran with it. It’s chilling to listen to the stories Doty tells. Doty planted himself deep within the conspiracy theory crazed UFO community. Why on Earth would a government official share information with civilians? He fed them what they wanted to hear and the more theories they shared, the more the world dismissed them.

To compliment Doty and Bennewitz are a slew of insiders and UFO enthusiasts. Each person has much to add. There is one reporter in particular who has been corrupted by the likes of Doty and the counter-intelligence campaign. Who is to blame in these scenarios? Is Doty a villain? Is Doty just a man doing his job? How much responsibility does each person carry? While it’s easy to feel sympathy for various people in this film, each made a choice to take Doty’s word at face value.

The directing team (John Lundberg, Roland Denning and Kypros Kyprianou) treats their subjects with great care. The premise of the story is laid out nicely and the stories from all involved supports a middle ground, allowing the audience to choose what to believe. This is a fine line to walk for documentary films, as many filmmakers tend to lean one way or the other. Mirage Men gives the audience a glimpse into the intelligence world and the conspiracy world and will perhaps confuse the audience even more after all is said and done.

Mirage Men gives the audience a glimpse into the intelligence world and the conspiracy world and will perhaps confuse the audience even more after all is said and done.

Unfortunately the film drags a little going into the final act. This film shares zany theories which are partially true, only to be debunked in one form or another. At one point it feels like countless mind-twisting stories are thrown at the audience. Perhaps this is by design.

At the end of the day Mirage Men delivers on a promise to entertain the audience. Individuals who believe in alien life forms or other conspiracy theories will find great value in the materials presented. Those who paid the above short shrift may grow tired of the head-scratching stories. Despite a slight bump in the road, Mirage Men is a fascinating watch.

[notification type=”star”]70/100 ~ GOOD. At the end of the day Mirage Men delivers on a promise to entertain the audience. Individuals who believe in alien life forms or other conspiracy theories will find great value in the materials presented. Those who paid the above short shrift may grow tired of the head-scratching stories. [/notification]

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About Author

I'm from Victoria BC and love watching films from all corners of the world. I'm fascinated by interpreting films and connecting with other film lovers. I love sharp, clever dialogue (QT), beautifully shot films (The Thin Red Line) and a filmmaker who trusts the audience to put it all together and leave room for discussion (PTA).