Ariel Phenomenon

Ariel Phenomenon releases May 20, 2022.
Preorders are now open!

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

Press inquiries / Press kit: Contact VOCAB Communications —
Release timeline: Digital rentals start Friday May 20, 2022, after 9am EST; the rental is valid for 48 hours after you start watching the film, whenever you choose to start watching. Digital downloads and DVDs will be available later. Additional platforms / streaming services will be announced.
Donor info: If you donated to the film watch your email for a free rental code on May 20, and a free download later.
Subtitles: Multiple language options (SP, FR, AR, GER, CH, BRPT), plus English captions for the hearing impaired.

“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

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.
Åström tells JEMI that they are exploring the possibility of a digital release of the score. We will keep you posted!

The Debrief will offer a full review of the nearly two-hour documentary in conjunction with the release. Chrissy Newton will also conduct an interview with the film’s director Randall Nickerson, which will appear the same day as the documentary’s release (Friday May 20).

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 that “A public hearing is long overdue, but it will be a waste of time if the Pentagon isn’t forthcoming with its information. We’ve asked the Pentagon to fix a problem it created in the first place, and 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.

The Phenomenon: Control System, or Developmental Driver?

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?

Pentagon’s Director for Defense Intelligence Ousted

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.

Read more: “Sex, Lies, and UFOs: Pentagon’s Head of Counterintelligence and Security Ousted”, The Debrief, April 14, 2022

News clippings from the 1990s

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:

Christopher Mellon and Luis Elizondo respond to Pentagon announcement

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 letter

Open 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.

Read Elizondo’s statement on Twitter

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)

Monthly Chosun magazine of South Korea reports on alien encounters; GQ magazine (UK) interviews Luis Elizondo about UAPs

Monthly Chosun (South Korea): A South Korean current affairs magazine, Monthly Chosun, touts “the first Korean media to interview ‘UFO abductees'” in its November issue. The article by Youngnam Kim includes interviews with Susan Manewich (contributor to JAR Magazine), Alan Steinfeld (editor of the new book Making Contact), and Will Bueché (archivist at the John E Mack Institute). Please note that Google’s translation services do not accurately convert Korean to English. A manual translation may become available later; we will update this item then. “‘UFO 납치 경험자들’ ‘외계인이 인종 개량을 위해 납치!’ (November 2021)

In the previous issue, Monthly Chosun covered the the US government’s report on UAPs (UFOs), presenting interviews with Leslie Kean, Ralph Blumenthal, and Avi Loeb. “미국 정부의 UFO 보고서 발표를 이끈 주역들 한국 언론 최초 인터뷰. 이제는 ‘미확인비행물체’가 아니라 ‘실존물체’다! (October 2021)

Astronomer Avi Loeb took a public stance against experiencers in a longer version of his interview that was published on a South Korean website. Loeb stated, “Science is not about listening to people. I don’t want to talk much about the people who claim to have been abducted. It’s not my concern,” explaining, “I don’t want to talk to people. I want to look through a telescope and analyze data through a computer. My work has nothing to do with people.” (These remarks were translated; his original phrasing may have been different, e.g., he may have said “My work does not rely on people”.)

GQ magazine (UK edition): “This man ran the Pentagon’s secretive UFO programme for a decade. We had some questions.” by Charlie Burton. “Early last year, the US government officially acknowledged videos of ‘unidentified aerial phenomena’ filmed by its Navy pilots. Was it evidence of extraterrestrials? Here, Luis Elizondo, the former Pentagon intelligence officer in charge of investigating these incidents, reveals (almost) all he knows…” (November 9, 2021)

Sen. Bill Nelson, NASA administrator, on the possibility of an alien presence

October 19, 2021 — Sen. Bill Nelson, NASA administrator, spoke about the possibility of an alien presence in a podcast held by the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.

Bill Nelson“[You’ve seen] what those Navy pilots saw in 2004. And there have been some 300 sightings since then.

And I’ve talked to those pilots, and they know they saw something. Their radars locked onto it, and then all of a sudden it was here on the surface and then it’s there. And they don’t know what it is, and we don’t know what it is.

We hope it’s not an adversary here on Earth that has that kind of technology. But it’s something.

And so, this is a mission that we’re constantly looking at: What or who is out there? Who are we? How did we get here? How did we become as we are? How did we develop? How did we civilize? And are those same conditions out there in a universe that has billions of other suns in billions of other galaxies? It’s so large I can’t conceive it. […]

My personal opinion is that the universe is so big, and now there are even theories that there might be other universes, and if that’s the case, who am I to say that planet Earth is the only location of a life form that is civilized and organized like ours?

But I’ll tell you what that makes me think. I better be a better steward of what we have. Because we’re messing it up, and we’re messing it up even just the way we’re treating each other. And so I know what my mission is: to be a better steward of this planet and be a better citizen of planet Earth.”

— Bill Nelson, former Senator and current head of NASA (Oct 19, 2021)

Sen. Bill Nelson was sworn in as the 14th NASA administrator on May 3, 2021, tasked with carrying out the Biden-Harris administration’s vision for the agency. Nelson chaired the Space Subcommittee in the U.S. House of Representatives for six years and later served as the Ranking Member on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. During his time in Congress, Nelson was a strong advocate for NASA’s Earth science programs and authored numerous pieces of legislation to combat and mitigate the effects of climate change. Click for full bio at NASA.

A letter to Lauren French, Communications Director for Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA)

October 4, 2021 — The following letter from the John E Mack Institute was sent to Lauren French, the communication director of Rep. Adam Schiff’s office.

Dear Lauren French,

I encourage you to replace the word “threat” with the word “risk” in future press releases on this subject, to more accurately describe the behavior of the UAPs – which has been passive for the most part.

Thank you for your consideration.

Re: Press Releases: Chairman Schiff Applauds Passage of 2022 Intelligence Authorization Act
“The provision will ensure that the task force will be able to fully draw on all classified reporting about UAPs as they continue to investigate this mysterious *threat* to U.S. airspace and our military forces.”


Will Bueché
John E Mack Institute

The Debrief: The Rise of Alien Abductions

September 24, 2021 — A new article in The Debrief presents accounts from several men and women who are willing to go on the record about their alien encounters.

The Experience: The Cultural Rise of Alien Abductions and Those Who Encounter Them” is online at

The Debrief

A roundtable discussion among the people featured in the article has been released by The Experiencer Group (recorded Sept 26, 2021). “This special episode came about spontaneously and organically while meeting as a group over Zoom to talk about the process of the article and ‘coming out’ as experiencers of non-human entities,” writes Jay King. “As the conversation progressed, the conversation turned toward how media has handled stories like this in the past, and being inspired to work toward a better way forward for public and private dialogue about anomalous and non-human experiences.” Learn more about The Experiencer Group at their website. An interview with the author of the article, from The Debrief‘s Cristina Gomez, is also available.

September 30, 2021 — The 2022 Intelligence Authorization Act has passed, which states that “not less frequently than quarterly … the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force, or successor entity, shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on the findings of the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force, or successor entity”.

The Believer: Audiobook edition of John Mack biography now available

July 13, 2021 — An audiobook edition of The Believer by Ralph Blumenthal is now available. The reader is Phil Thron and the running length is 12 hours and 20 minutes. The hardcover was released in March 2021.

The Believer is the true story of Dr. John Mack, the eminent Harvard psychiatrist who risked his career to investigate the phenomenon of human encounters with aliens and to give credibility to the stupefying tales shared by people who were utterly convinced they had happened.

Audiobook on
Hardcover on

The Believer was independently written by former New York Times reporter Ralph Blumenthal, coauthor of the New York Times article in 2017 that broke the news of a secret Pentagon unit investigating UFOs.
The Believer is not endorsed by, affiliated with, authorized, or sponsored by JEMI.

“…a riveting look at the psychology of how we come to believe things. Mack’s abilities, his brilliance, flaws, hubris and mania, are anatomised with sensitivity. Readers will close the book wiser than when they opened it, and painfully aware of what they do not and perhaps can never know about Mack, about extraterrestrials and about the nature of truth.”
— Simon Ings, The Times (UK)

DoD Report on UAPs Released

logoJune 25, 2021 — The Department of Defense report on UAPs (UFOs) has been released.

Preliminary Assessment: Unidentified Aerial Phenomena” (the public report) may be downloaded now at

An outcome of the report is a DoD order to “develop a plan to formalize the mission”:

The Debrief: “Pentagon told to ‘formalize’ its investigation of UFOs, possibly expand UAP task force” Moments after the long anticipated UAP report was released to the public, the Department of Defense has been tasked to expand the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force’s efforts to improve their mostly inconclusive findings. (See official statement, “Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Assessment”, June 25, 2021)

Curated links to coverage of the report:

Politico: “Government report can’t explain UFOs, but offers no evidence of aliens”

USA Today: “‘Important first step’: Highly anticipated UFO report released with no firm conclusions”

NBC News: “UFO report: Government can’t explain 143 of 144 mysterious flying objects, blames limited data”

BBC News: “UFO report: US ‘has no explanation’ for sightings”

CNN: “US intelligence community releases long-awaited UFO report”

Reuters: “US report on Pentagon-documented UFOs leaves sightings unexplained” A senior U.S. official, asked about the possibility of extraterrestrial explanations for the observations, said: “That’s not the purpose of the task force, to evaluate any sort of search for extraterrestrial life.”

ABC News: “Few answers in unclassified UFO report” “…we have no clear indications that there is any non-terrestrial explanation for them – but we will go wherever the data takes us,” said a senior U.S. government official.

The Verge: “Everything You Need to know about the Pentagon’s UFO Report”

The Debrief: “Government Releases Highly Anticipated Report on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena” The report states that a majority of incidents that were examined “probably do represent physical objects,” noting that they were detected by multiple sensors [and] also visual observations…

New York Times: “US Has No Explanation for Unidentified Objects and Stops Short of Ruling Out Aliens” The nine-page document essentially declines to draw conclusions…

The New Yorker: “The Unexplained Phenomena of the UFO Report” A new intelligence document examines a hundred and forty-three sightings that might have been caused by errant balloons, foreign drones, or “Other” — a reserved way of saying aliens. (June 26, 2021)

Historical perspective:Carl Sagan Astronomer Carl Sagan did not believe in alien encounters but he believed aliens existed among the billions of worlds that lay beyond our solar system. And like John Mack, he felt that communicating with such life could have a positive, unifying effect on humankind:

“I think its one of the most fascinating questions that humans have ever asked: Are we the only kind of intelligent life that there is in the universe, or are there others, evolved under different physical circumstances, with different bodies and different ways of thinking with whom we can communicate?

Its the ultimate attempt at deprovincialization, and I think its a very good objective for the human species at this critical moment when we are in this halting and tentative and not fully successful way trying to bind up all the peoples of the Earth into what we clearly are – one species and one planet.

The very thought of there being other beings, different from all of us, can have a very useful, cohering role for the human species.”

— Carl Sagan (“Carl Sagan on the search for intelligent life outside our solar system” CBC News, 1988)

DoD has no idea what UAPs are

June 4, 2021 — Officials have no idea what UAPs are, according to an early preview of the upcoming Department of Defense report. “…senior officials briefed on the intelligence conceded that the very ambiguity of the findings meant the government could not definitively rule out theories that the phenomena observed by military pilots might be alien spacecraft.”

Source: “U.S. Finds No Evidence of Alien Technology in Flying Objects, but Can’t Rule It Out, Either”, New York Times, June 4, 2021

Restatements of the New York Times article: Washington Post report on NY Times report, June 4  ·  The Guardian report on NY Times report, June 4  ·  CNN report on NY Times report, June 4  ·  NBC News report on NY Times report, June 4

Related: Vladimir Duthiers and the rest of the CBS This Morning hosts are not impressed by the evasiveness (June 4, 2021):

Vladimir Duthiers: This all reminds me of what happened in a galaxy far, far away, when Obi Wan Kenobi said, “These are not the droids you’re looking for“.
Anthony Mason: We should be clear here. They don’t say they’re not from outer space. They say there’s no evidence they’re from outer space. …
Gayle King: I believe.
Vladimir Duthiers: I do too!

More June news coverage of the upcoming Department of Defense report on UAPs:

Experts Weigh In on Pentagon UFO Report“, Scientific American (June 8, 2021)
There is not going to be any “big reveal,” says Robert Sheaffer… “There are no aliens here on Earth, and so the government cannot ‘disclose’ what it does not have.”
(Sheaffer is a former columnist for Skeptical Inquirer, and fellow of the skeptics’ society CSICOP)

NBC News: “‘Truth embargo’: UFOs are suddenly all the talk in Washington” After 75 years of taboo and ridicule, serious people can finally discuss the mysterious flying objects, and even skeptics say that’s a good thing. (June 13, 2021)

June 15, 2021 update: The House Intelligence Committee received a classified briefing on UAPs with U.S. Navy and FBI officials. This is the second briefing to have occurred in June and the first to include the FBI; it is unclear why the FBI was present. New York Post (June 16, 2021)

NBC News Digital: The Overview: “We Might Not Be Alone In The Universe” (June 19, 2021):
Gadi Schwartz on one of the biggest existential questions of the time: other intelligent life. 18 min long video podcast.

BBC News made their own overview piece, featuring new interviews with Dietrich, Kean, and Mellon: BBC Breakfast via Reddit (June 20, 2021)

Luis Elizondo, former Director of AATIP (Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program), speaking on a live June 22, 2021 podcast, “Theories of Everything with Curt Jaimungal“, said that if the public knew information that he is aware of (but cannot speak of), the public’s first reaction will be “somber”, followed by “turning inward and trying to reflect on what this means to us and our species and ourselves.”

Christopher Mellon, a former Deputy Asst Sec of Defense for Intelligence under Clinton and Bush, in a self-published essay, “Don’t Dismiss the Alien Hypothesis” (June 24, 2021), says if Russia and China are ruled out as the source of the Nimitz “Tic Tac” (which seems to be the conclusion that the DoD report will draw), then “non-human origin is presently the theory that best fits all the facts.”

Chris Carter, creator of The X-Files tv series, has an editorial in The New York Times: “I Created ‘The X-Files.’ Here’s Why I’m Skeptical of the New UFO Report” (June 25, 2021). When we were dressing the original set for Agent Mulder’s office on “The X-Files,” I came up with the poster with a UFO on it that reads “I Want To Believe.” And I think that’s where most people come down on the whole extraterrestrial business. Not quite there yet, but waiting for a sign…

Earlier: Comments by President Barack Obama, June 1, 2021:

President Obama

Ezra Klein of the New York Times asks President Obama how he would be affected if the UAPs turn out to be alien-made but are only drones, with no evident way to contact their makers: Click to read and listen to the audio interview at NYTimes or download the podcast from Apple