Documentary Review: More “Proof” of a UFO encounter that’s nothing of the sort — “Moment of Contact”

There is no “concrete” evidence that what happened in January of 1996 in the city of Varginha, Brazil was caused by an alien spacecraft, well, none that’s presented in director James Fox‘s latest UFO documentary, “Moment of Contact.”

There are no photographs, no “crash” debris, not even local TV coverage at the time provided much more than what some folks told interviewers then who repeat their stories for Fox and crew 26 years later, about what they saw.

Fox has an eyewitness take us to a non-descript piece of land, where, after some hunting around, he shouts (in Portuguese with English subtitles) “It was here! HERE!”

Fox interviews the current mayor of Varginha, and asks him the same loaded and pointless question he peppers young people on the street with — “Do you believe” that a UFO crashed here, that there were survivors, that the military perhaps with US help, spirited them away?

Absolutely, the mayor of a city with a UFO monument and saucer-shaped museum says. I mean, his nephew’s girlfriend saw things. She did.

At one point, the producer of “UFOs: 50 Years of Denial,” the director of “I Know What I Saw” and the slightly-more-credible “The Phenomenon” walks away from one more credulous, zero-skepticism interview, and gushes “I didn’t believe” this “event” really happened “when I first came here,” but NOW…

Two miracles can be associated with that moment and that line. One is that Fox’s nose didn’t grow and sprout Pinocchio leaves. The other is that I was able to get my eyes to return to normal from rolling that far back in my head.

The most generous way to characterize Fox’s nakedly exploitive films is that they’re all part of an “ongoing investigation,” that he’s poking around at famous UFO landmarks, dramatically breaking locks to get to an “encounter” site, struggling to ask one question (a REALLY stupid one) of a threatening, armed and standoffish man allegedly involved in transporting an alien from a hospital to a military base with a goal in mind.

Alas, that goal seems no closer at the end of each and every credulous, lazy, over hyped documentary.

He landed Peter Coyote as his films’ narrator with “The Phenomenon,” and Coyote’s back here, working “allegedly” into the narration just enough to not kill his association with real historian/documentarian Ken Burns.

The sister of a policeman who allegedly “captured” an alien who died within days of holding the creature in his arms waves a medical report that mentions (supposedly) an “unidentified toxin,” but this is skimmed-over briefly. A cardiologist who treated the dying man appears on camera to verify that as the only close-to-concrete evidence that the film has in it.

But we’re told, in the opening narration, that NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) warned Varginha that something was headed there/happening there. And no effort to document or confirm that claim is made, no attempt to get NORAD on the record. Perhaps he wouldn’t have liked their answer.

Instead, the hype goes on, with Fox and sometimes, by extension, Coyote, breathlessly referring to this or that fresh witness having “disappeared…for 26 years.” No, they (allegedly) just didn’t do media interviews about what they say they saw.

Fox disciplines himself to equivocate, here and there. “Allegedly” gets used more in the latter parts of “Moment of Contact” than in the early scenes.

“There’s nothing more significant than THIS story….if it was true.”

And a few of “the usual suspects” among UFO researchers, here and from Brazil, weigh in, adding more and more hearsay onto the layers of it we’ve seen (illustrated recreations) and heard, couching it as “expertise.”

What ALL of these UFO films desperately need is hard scientific push-back. There’s video of a small light dancing and drifting down into the city at one point, and no one is here to suggest it could be anything but “alien” in nature. It looks like a Chinese lantern drifting on the eddies of a city breeze. A real weather expert could have punctured this balloon (another possibility) in a flash.

Something happened in Varginha, and we’d all like to know what it was. But a “researcher” who spent three hours on somebody’s “Konkrete” podcast claiming he discovered “proof,” who takes a generic alien PAINTING made of what three teen girls (re-interviewed here) say they saw, and swoons at “seeing the original…illustration…holding it in my HANDS” isn’t going to be the fellow to provide answers.

“The truth is out there.” And a lot of hucksters are going to keep cashing in on vague, credulous claptrap like “Moment of Contact” until somebody hands us actual “proof” about what’s going on.

Rating: unrated

Cast: James Fox, assorted experts and witnesses and others involved in the Varginha, Brazil “encounter”

Credits: Directed by James Fox. A 1091 release.

Running time: 1:48

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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4 Responses to Documentary Review: More “Proof” of a UFO encounter that’s nothing of the sort — “Moment of Contact”

  1. Chad says:

    Good job on the terrible review and ridiculous expectations Roger. Another swing and a miss, as expected from your readership.

    • Roger Moore says:

      You know the difference between you and me, “Chad?” I laid out places Fox could do the journalistic BASICS and make a more credible movie. Easy, obvious things that any journalist would spot. NORAD said this? Get the documentation. PROVE it. FOIA request. Simple. This happened in 1996, and all this huckster does is give everybody’s excuse about how something that happened in a CITY in 1996 isn’t documented, photographed, a “crash” with no debris. And on and on. Doesn’t do much with the death certificate he has on hand. Why? Probably doesn’t back up his BS assertions. This wasn’t ancient history, ten years after the digital camera had gone on the market. And yet…nothing. Didn’t bring a Geiger counter to an alleged crash site. Gullible rubes like you keep him in business.

  2. Magnus says:

    This is a pretty lame review. I’m not sure why you’re stating this documentary is “nakedly exploitative”, and it seems weird that you make such a big deal of the documentary makers using the term “allegedly” (far less often than you imply), when this is the only feasible approach in any documentary relying heavily on witness testimony.

    I’m also not sure why you say the documentary claims “this or that fresh witness” disappeared for 26 years, when they made this claim for only one of the witnesses. It’s fine to take a critical approach, but you only damage your own credibility when you seem to be trying so hard to distort the facts.

    • Roger Moore says:

      Oh? Did you take notes while watching it? I did. I quoted it accurately. You don’t ask hard (not that hard, OBVIOUS) questions and attack those who do because you either don’t know any better — you’re so young you think 1996 is ancient history (no, there were thousands of cameras, even digital ones, in Varginha by that time) — or you don’t want to know the answers. You mischaracterize what I wrote because the facts as presented don’t back your gullibility up.

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