One old man. One last dream. One golden ticket to the stars. A lonely widower (Dreyfuss) has his long-extinguished dream reignited as he enters to win a competition sponsored by a billionaire entrepreneurial space company founder. The prize: a ticket on the world’s first commercial spaceflight. Fudging his birth date and medical records, and against all odds, he battles his daughter (Bridges), family, ill health and time, to win the ticket and take the trip of his dreams.
“Astronaut” opens the 2020 Las Cruces International Film Festival (LCIFF) on Wednesday, March 4 at 7:00 pm at Cineport 10. This is the US Film Festival Premiere of the film which opens in London March 20. Special guests Academy Award Winning Actor Richard Dreyfuss, actor Kristen Bridges, Director Shelagh McLeod, and Producer Jessica Adams will attend LCIFF and engage in a Q&A following the screening. (Dreyfuss will receive the Lifetime Achievement in Entertainment Award Thursday March 5 following a 7:00 pm screening of Mr. Holland’s Opus.)
Writer/Director Shelagh McLeod explains she wanted to be an astronaut when she was a little girl. Although her career took a different path, “spending many months visiting my mother at a nursing home was a life-changing experience for me. Not only because I was about to lose my mom, but also because the journey from her being an independent woman, to becoming a frail, frightened and overlooked old lady, was a heartbreaking one. In the nursing home garden there was an old man. He sat in his wheelchair, staring up at the sky for hours. One day I asked him, ‘What is it that you’re looking for up there…?’ ‘Another go…’ he said.”
This conversation became the genesis for Astronaut. According to McLeod, “Astronaut is a deeply personal story, and one that I feel is timely and I hope will resonate with a universal audience. Because we are all on a one-way journey – and what if we could, at our bleakest moment, perhaps the end of our life, take the trip of our dreams and have another go?”
Humor is also an element of the film; the shenanigans between the old man, his grandson, and his son-in law as they join forces and battle to overcome adversity adds lightness to the story. Revealing the ‘misbehaving’ aspect of being old and infirm was important. ‘Misbehaving’ is not reserved only for the young; it is also the prerogative of the ‘young at heart!’
The film evokes a myriad of emotions. McLeod says “It is our dearest wish that this story will offer a vision of hope and provide an uplifting message to families universally: that if we support one another, we can all achieve our seemingly impossible dreams regardless of our age and, in so doing, make our own metaphorical journey to the stars.”