June 5, 2023 — Leslie Kean and Ralph Blumenthal’s latest update has been published by The Debrief: “A former intelligence official turned whistleblower has given Congress and the Intelligence Community Inspector General extensive classified information about … intact and partially intact craft of non-human origin.”
May 12, 2023
Karin Austin is the new executive director of the John E Mack Institute (JEMI). In this presentation she details the donation of John Mack’s archives to Rice University’s Archives of the Impossible, curated by Jeffrey J. Kripal, Ph.D.
February 2023 — JEMI is proud to premiere a new paper by Tiffany Vance-Huffman of Naropa University: “Shamanic Initiations, Alien Abduction Phenomena, and the Return of the Archetypal Feminine: An Experiential Distillation“.
“The purpose of this paper,” Vance-Huffman writes, “is to change the way people think about anomalous experiences and illnesses of the body-mind by examining initiations. Spiritual initiations are archetypal experiences that can happen to anyone at any time. Rather than taking a literal perspective, this paper uses an ecopsychological, big-picture approach to explore the spiritual dimensions of shamanic initiations and alien abduction phenomena, demonstrating how they mirror each other almost identically and are both highly transformative.”
Her paper will also be added to the Library section of this website.
January 19, 2023 — Dave Schrader of The Darkness Radio interviews Ariel Phenomenon producer Randall Nickerson. If you haven’t yet seen the documentary, play the first 2 minutes of this podcast to hear a sensational collage of excerpts. Listen to Darkness Radio interview with Randall Nickerson (30m, mp3)
November 1, 2022 — Rizwan Virk, founder of Play Labs @ MIT, writes “It wouldn’t be the first time officials put the issue to rest without a full, open-minded investigation” in this essential editorial on NBC News’ THINK website. Christopher Mellon calls it “One of the most balanced and thoughtful recent articles regarding the UAP issue”. Click here to read: Government UFO report timed for Halloween seems to downplay spooky sightings
Update: The report was ultimately released on January 12, 2023. The 2022 Annual Report on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena is a summary that contains nothing of particular interest: www.dni.gov/files/ODNI/documents/assessments/Unclassified-2022-Annual-Report-UAP.pdf
Also in the News:
The Mile Higher Podcast hosted by Josh Thomas & Kendall Rae explores the Ariel School event. (This podcast is not a review of the Ariel Phenomenon documentary.) Listen on Spotify or Audioboom or wherever you source your podcasts.
September 28, 2022 — Stéphane Allix’s interview with John Mack appears in this new book, which is in French. Available from Amazon.fr.
The interview can also be viewed in English at youtu.be/CuYV62uzd_0. It was recorded in Sept 2003 at Mack’s home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, while Allix was producing a documentary film.
Available now – click here!
Ariel Phenomenon explores the infamous Ariel School UFO sighting witnessed by over sixty schoolchildren in Zimbabwe in 1994. The story covers a former student’s journey back to the African school – the place that, at the age of nine, shattered her reality. Interviews with witnesses, now scattered across the globe, ask the question many have struggled with for over two decades: what happens when you experience something so extraordinary that nobody believes you? Produced by Randall Nickerson.
101 min. / English / Color / USA / 2022
Digital purchases: Buy now from ArielPhenomenon.com (Oct 27, 2022)
Buying from ArielPhenomenon.com benefits the film most.
Additional digital retailers: Amazon (Oct 27, 2022) · Apple/iTunes (Dec 25, 2022) · GooglePlay (Dec 25, 2022)
Discs: Order DVD or BluRay (early 2023)
“The most effective story told on the subject that I have ever seen.” – Douglas Trumbull
“Ariel Phenomenon is powerful, life-affirming, and brought me to tears.” – Josh Boone
“I enjoyed the film greatly. It puts the issue in a touching, emotional place.” – Dan Aykroyd
“Worth every second of the wait.” – Ryan Sprague
“[An] amazing, emotional documentary.” – Dave Foley
“Randall Nickerson’s riveting documentary delivers a soul-wrenching experience.”
– Victor Stiff, Toronto Film Critics Association
[click for this must-read review]
“An understated and deeply moving perspective… a potent study of how corrosive to one’s spirit the denial of truth can be.”
– Simon Foster, Sydney Science Fiction Film Festival [click]
“Nickerson’s tenacity has managed to produce a solemn, restrained, and challenging addition to the UFO corpus, one which should rightfully command global audiences. …a film that appears destined to enjoy stellar ratings on the Tomatometer.”
– Billy Cox, Life In Jonestown [click]
“It left me inspired and awestruck, and that’s how I hope it leaves you.”
– Linda Cook, OurQuadCities [click]
More reviews at RottenTomatoes.com
Listen to the beautiful score for Ariel Phenomenon by composer Henrik Åström. Samples of Emily / Legacy / Religion may be heard on his website. Åström recently completed the original score for the film together with composer Nate Walcott. www.henrikastrom.com
Åström tells JEMI that they are exploring the possibility of a digital release of the score. We will keep you posted!
Interviews with Ariel Phenomenon cast & crew
Randall Nickerson was interviewed by Chrissy Newton in May 2022 on Rebelliously Curious at The Debrief. Follow Ariel Phenomenon on Facebook and other social media sites for more interviews with Nickerson. For example: this one from June 13.
Emily Trim & Randall Nickerson were interviewed by Martin Willis in late 2019. Emily is a central figure in the documentary. She rarely grants interviews. Listen here: PodcastUFO
Emily Trim was also interviewed in late 2020 by Stuart Davis. The 2-part interview is available at AliensAndArtists.com.
Reviews of Ariel Phenomenon by the Public
Seen on Twitter during the premiere
— Nathan Shortt @NathanDodeca
“I’m watching it now. It’s truly great and far more touching than I was prepared for.”
— Ryan Terry @RyanTerry
“I shed a few tears, and I imagine others will too.”
— Emma Woods @emmawoodsbooks
“Finished and it was excellent. A sentimental touch that doesn’t exist in other UFO documentaries. Glad the people behind the film didn’t bend to demands from publishers to include ‘big names’ because the film stands on its own with the cast it has – the students.”
— Art Geigel @omniasoft
“It came off as a sincere and faithful telling that respected the experiences of all those involved. It could have been any of us. They represented humanity for all of us that day. I loved it. My partner who is not totally interested in the topic was captivated as well. Following Emily Trim’s emotional journey complete with difficulties and traumas made what so many experiencers have faced so real and relatable.”
— Nicholas G @SpinDubTracks
“It was amazing. I have been following this subject for some time but have been highly skeptical. There were several instances while watching that I felt a visceral feeling of fear and realization that these children really did see something.”
— Bryan Jones @bryannjones
“At some point in time while watching this film. It will hit you. Humanity has not only been kept away from knowing about the phenomenon’s existence. Humanity has also failed to help those who actually saw the abyss staring back. …Humanity failed these kids.”
— Fernando Jimenez @Arnfden0
“The film is humble, kept it to the witnesses and those directly involved, no conspiracy at all and that separates this film from absolutely everything else ever made on the topic. The witnesses tell their story with no attempt by the film maker to distort. Brilliant in that way.”
— Crypto Dino Beaver @CryptoDinoBeaver
“There’s a lot of things they could have introduced: history, cover ups, MIB, Roswell, etc. I think it’s stronger without that stuff. The film is strong for the things it hasn’t put in.”
— James Jack @jamesjack
“A moving and heartfelt film that captured the mystery of the phenomenon, as well as the lasting effect on experiencers. Best UFO doc ever in terms of emotional impact. All those kids were clearly stunned, and telling the absolute truth as best they could. Bravo!”
— James Faulk @jfrickingfaulk
“Just watched Ariel Phenomenon. Very touching. Essential for humanity to understand that we are part of something much much bigger than ourselves. I could watch it a dozen times.”
— just an echo in the chamber @BeLikeWahter
“Randall’s most beautifully made film is an absolute must see. Huge respect to all involved in bringing this to the world, and to the witnesses – you are not alone in your thoughts & feelings. Thank you so, so much, always love.”
— Max E McCabe @MaxEMcCabe
“Just watched Ariel Phenomenon, a beautiful and powerfull documentary. Loved it!“
— Mikael Stamfält @leakim66
“Really good, interesting and shocking documentary that will not leave you indifferent. Time to open your mind…”
— Raul Gallego Abellan @raulgaab
“So powerful. Watching the children recall the event makes any debunking efforts against it seem incredibly ridiculous. Almost like skeptics are the ones w/ the mental illness, not the other way around. 10/10. Must watch.”
— David John Lanier @ Munook
“Ariel Phenomenon is a stunning achievement. I hope everyone gets to watch this tearjerker. Thanks to Randall Nickerson for making it, and to all the brave witnesses for telling their stories in such an emotionally honest way. Finally a UFO movie for, and by, UFO experiencers!”
— The Hermetic Penetrator @THP_22_22
“A ☆☆☆☆☆ masterpiece. A profound, empathetic study of life after an extraordinary event. Randall Nickerson has made an outstanding film.”
— Anthony Peake @ParanormalBlip
“I was highly impressed. The cinematography, camera work, sound track, production value… all top notch. If you’re looking for nothing more than ‘show me dem aliens’ you might not like it as much. But it was beautifully done.”
— Jazz Shaw @JazzShaw
“The most captivating film I’ve ever seen. Randall does a brilliant job weaving the story lines of Dr. Mack, Tim Leach and Emily Trim while being able to tell this incredible story without typical narration or reenactments. This is a beautiful film that the whole world should see.”
— Dan Schmidt @TheDanSchmidt
“An amazing and beautiful film. I hope it hits a major platform soon, it should be viewed by the whole world and especially the Congress members investigating UAP matters. No doubt what they saw was absolutely real.”
— UAP Costa Rica @UAP_CR
“Would also like to say Rest in Peace to Tim Leach, RIP John Mack, and thank you to all of the students and staff who told their stories. Zimbabwe is a beautiful place and I’m glad I got to learn a bit more about this snippet of the land and people there. Thanks @ArielPhenomenon!”
— Mike Paris @MikeParisDMV
“Finished Ariel Phenomenon. The backdrop of Zimbabwe is stunning and the cinematography is gorgeous. But more than anything, the credibility captured was unparalleled. This is the Times Square landing everyone wants.”
— AwakeWhileSleeping @KrysDevine
And a couple negative reviews…
— Matthew Riot @RiotSeeds
“What a waste. Who is interested in the lives of those who were there? Maybe talk about UFOs and extraterrestrials. Boring.”
— Zachery Larson @zachery_larson
Also in the News:
May 2, 2022 — Rep Tim Burchett (R) says the Department of Defense is not revealing what they know about UAPs, and not complying with the requirements signed into law in the 2022 Defense Act. “There’s an arrogance in government at that level that we cannot handle what’s going on out there”, he told NewsNation. “It’s a bogus cover-up. It doesn’t fit and it’s about power and control.” The 2022 National Defense Authorization Act mandated regular reporting, engagement with foreign allies, and a coordinated effort to research and possibly replicate UFO technologies. Burchett is remarkably candid in his criticisms. He concludes the interview by saying “I’d love to tell you what I already know right now, but I can’t. But hopefully at some point I can.” Click through to watch the 7m video interview with Rep. Burchett.
May 10, 2022 — “A House subcommittee is scheduled to hold next week the first open congressional hearing on unidentified aerial vehicles in more than half a century, with testimony from two top defense intelligence officials,” reports The New York Times in an article by Ralph Blumenthal and Leslie Kean. Rep Adam Schiff (D), the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said the hearing is to illuminate “one of the great mysteries of our time and to break the cycle of excessive secrecy and speculation with truth and transparency.” Seven months earlier in a Reddit interview, Schiff was asked “What would you say has been the biggest surprise about your current role on the House Intelligence Committee?”. His answer: “Aliens?“. Conservative expectations are that the briefing may only be a status report on how the setup of new systems for reporting and analysis is progressing, and there will be no discussion of theories. Rep Burchett tweeted, “I predict these officials won’t be nearly as transparent as they should be.” The hearing takes place Tuesday May 17, 2022; watch the livestream.
May 17, 2022 — As expected, the public hearing on UAPs did not advance any theories and restated last year’s position that the Department of Defense does not know what UAPs are. (See June 21, 2021 news, “DoD Has No idea What UAPs Are”). One significant missed opportunity was noted by NPR: “Scott W. Bray, the deputy director of Naval intelligence, told lawmakers that … None of the documented objects had attempted to communicate with U.S. aviators, and no attempt had been made to communicate with them, he said, as they all appeared to be unmanned.” (Source: “The military’s UFO database now has info from about 400 reported incidents“, NPR, May 17, 2022). For more highlights, see coverage at TheDebrief and ABC News, or read the transcript.
May 18, 2022 — Journalist Ross Coulthart tweeted, “Intriguing: The Congressman who asked some of the shrewdest Qs in the UAP hearing, Rep. Mike Gallagher, suggests the time travel / interdimensional future human hypothesis as an explanation for #UAPs”. The remarks came during an interview on The Pat McAfee Show. This link to YouTube is set to begin playing just before that exchange (at 1:31:43): youtu.be/vbHokbn6zqA
May 2022 — James Dunk of the University of Sydney has published a deep dive into the history of John Mack’s anti-nuclear activism. “Psychology as if the Whole Earth Mattered: Nuclear threat, environmental crisis, and the emergence of planetary psychology” may be read online (see link below) or in the APA journal History of Psychology. Dunk’s extensively-researched article is an excellent companion piece to Ralph Blumenthal’s recent biography of John Mack, The Believer.
Synopsis: At the end of the Cold War in the 1980s, a small organization, the Center for Psychology and Social Change, helped promote a shift in thinking about how psychology science could help us understand a rapidly changing environment. Originally founded to grapple with the threat of nuclear war, the group pivoted from a collection of psychologists at the fringe studying the anxiety of living with world-ending technology to a multidisciplinary movement exploring a person’s relationship with the dangerous, changing conditions of their planet. Historian James Dunk traces this history in a new article. He writes, “As they completed this pivot from the nuclear threat to the environmental crisis, at the end of the Cold War…these researchers displayed the form and function of what might be called a planetary psychology — of psychological theory and practice which broaches the planetary context of the individual psyche.”
Dunk, J. (2022). Psychology as if the whole earth mattered: Nuclear threat, environmental crisis, and the emergence of planetary psychology. History of Psychology, 25(2), 97–120. https://doi.org/10.1037/hop0000208
April 21, 2022 — Stuart Davis has published an essay of interest.
“I wanted to take a look at two ways the Phenomenon can be viewed. As a control system or, as a developmental driver. Quick note in what follows, when I say Phenomenon, it’s with the big ‘P’, it includes all the phenomena from UFOs, UAP, abduction, contact, the presence of highly advanced non-human entities, all the spokes in the wheel. Jacques Vallee has long proffered that the Phenomenon is a control system…”
Read the essay: The Phenomenon: Control System, or Developmental Driver?
April 14, 2022 — The Department of Defense has fired the Director for Defense Intelligence, Garry Reid.
Sources who spoke with The Debrief described Reid as the person most directly responsible for preventing the release of additional UAP (UFO) videos, and accused him of retaliating against former AATIP director Lue Elizondo after Elizondo brought the subject of UAPs to the press.
“Days after Elizondo and AATIP made headlines in the New York Times,” explains The Debrief, “an investigation into Elizondo and the release of the three DoD videos depicting UAP incidents was launched.” … “a senior defense official who had firsthand knowledge of the incident told The Debrief they knew for certain that [the] investigation was done at the behest of Reid as a way of retaliating against Elizondo.”
Reid was not dismissed for these actions, but rather, for an ‘inappropriate relationship and favoritism’ with a colleague. That colleague has now taken Reid’s place, a peculiar situation that according to Elizondo has left people on the inside “not happy”.
While these events are only tangential to the subject of alien encounters, they will surely provide a bit of drama when the story of “UAP disclosure” is eventually made into a movie. A book by Elizondo is currently underway. Additional fighter plane videos of UAPs, rumored to include close-up recordings from “near misses”, have yet to be released or even formally acknowledged as existing.
March 5, 2022 — Newspaper and magazine articles about Dr John Mack have been added to a free archive curated by Isaac Koi.
Mack probably wished the articles were less about him and more about the phenomenon. As he once remarked, reporters were primarily interested in why he was making a “fool” of himself, and they had little interest in the possible reality of alien encounters. Nonetheless, these news clippings may serve a useful research function if you are examining how the press dealt with the subject in the 1990s.
Koi’s archive is not affiliated with JEMI, but many of the scans are from clippings saved by Mack’s organization. They were originally filed in folders labelled “positive press”, “neutral press”, and “negative press”. You can determine which folder was thickest by visiting Koi’s website at: files.afu.se
December 21, 2021 — The PRETEND podcast by Javier Leiva delves into alien encounters. “There are people out there who claim they encountered beings from another planet just to seek attention. But, others carry these experiences in secret…”
Listen to the Preview:
November 24, 2021 — Christopher Mellon, former Deputy Asst Sec of Defense for Intelligence under Clinton and Bush, who stepped away from his government position to force the subject of Unexplained Aerial Phenomena (UAPs) into the public sphere, and Luis Elizondo, former Director of AATIP (Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program), have both responded to this week’s announcement that the Department of Defense is creating a new working group to study UAPs.
Mellon’s open letter to Rep. Ruben Gallego (AZ) politely counsels the representative that placing the group within USDI (the office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence) is ill-advised.
Elizondo warns that the USDI is “the same organization that has underplayed and tried to kill the UAP effort for years” and has “persecuted whistleblowers”.
There is speculation in The Washington Examiner that this office was announced now to undermine a bipartisan effort to create a new office to investigate these extraordinary events. The bipartisan plan detailed in Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (NY) amendment to the 2022 Defense Act would mandate “regular reporting, engagement with foreign allies, and a coordinated effort to research and possibly replicate UFO technologies”, whereas the plan announced by the Secretary of Defense does not.
Christopher Mellon’s open letterOpen Letter to Representative Gallego
Dear Representative Gallego:
I am writing as an admirer and supporter who deeply shares your concerns about the UAP issue.
In 2017, I was shocked to learn that U.S. Navy pilots had been encountering UAP in restricted U.S. airspace on a regular basis and nobody was reporting it much less doing anything about it. Senior DoD and intelligence officials, Congress, and the American public were all totally unaware.
I therefore worked with Lue Elizondo of the USDI staff to try to get this extraordinary information to Secretary Mattis. We knew that almost anyone below that level would likely shunt the issue aside and quash if we revealed it to them.
After a number of months, we realized we were not going to be able to inform Secretary Mattis. After some deliberation, we decided this was simply too important to ignore. Lue resigned from OSD in protest and shortly thereafter I delivered two authentic but unclassified DoD UAP videos to the New York Times …Read Mellon’s Open Letter
Luis Elizondo statement
Important update: Before anyone gets too excited about the recent Pentagon announcement of a new UAP group, please consider the following:
- A. USDI is precisely the same organization that has underplayed and tried to kill the UAP effort for years.
- B. USDI is an oversight organization and non-operational.
- C. Nowhere is there a requirement to provide unclassified findings to Congress, or work with our international partners.
Given that elements still exist in the Pentagon who are actively underplaying the significance of this topic, this is akin to giving an alcoholic the key and control to the liquor cabinet.
If you want to maintain UAP/UFO secrecy, this is exactly how to do it.
This is a direct and blatant attempt to circumvent and undermine the Senate, @SenGillibrand, @SenRubioPress, @RepRubenGallego, @MartinHeinrich, @RepTimBurchett, and others.
Please, please, please contact your representatives and let them know this is unacceptable and not in the best interest of the American people. The USDI is the one single office that has continuously lied about this topic and persecuted whistleblowers.
The Pentagon’s announcement to which they are responding may be read at the following link:
Establishment of the Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group (pdf) (Nov 23, 2021)