SXSW 2021 Review: The Hunt for Planet B

Written by Maria Manuella Pache de Athayde


The Hunt for Planet B, directed by Nathaniel Khan, explores big questions about the early universe, cosmos, and exoplanets. This documentary takes on a journey of discovery and reflects on the big questions, and makes us question the worlds that may be out there. Lead by a team of remarkable female scientists including Dr. Seager (MIT) and Dr. Batalha (USC) this doc was the perfect viewing for women’s history month and to explore the contributions of women in science. 

On the surface, this documentary tells us the story of the James Webb telescope which is 100 times more powerful than the Hubble telescope and will allow us to explore outer space unlike ever before. The James Webb telescope as depicted here seems to indicate the rediscovery of the American Frontier that started in the 1980’s with the space shuttle program. But this documentary is so much more than just another documentary about science. 

Instead, what we witness is a story about the power of human connection and the loneliness a lack of connection brings. This need to explore what’s in outer space is fueled by our need to fulfill our need for connection. Undoubtedly the James Webb telescope is an act of collective genius. But the throughline that really stuck with me is the human need for connection and the longing to discover what else is out there while trying to stay grounded in our collective humanity.  

The Hunt for Planet B Clip

The Hunt for Planet B is currently playing at the SXSW 2021 Film Festival.

You can follow Maria Manuella Pache de Athayde on LetterboxdTwitter, or Instagram and view more of what she’s up to here.

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