Mercury 13

Documentary Mercury 13

Guests Expected

Directors David Sington and Heather Walsh, subject Gene Nora Stumbough Jessen, and NASA/JPL Engineer Nagin Cox expected to attend April 8 screening.


When Dr. Sally Ride lifted off in the Challenger, the first American woman in space was riding on the shoulders of a group of pioneering women whose little-known story finally gets its due in this passionate and rousing documentary. These proud pilots were selected for rigorous testing and often fared better than their male counterparts, but were ultimately shut out of the NASA program. Through spirited interviews and revealing archival footage, the film allows these thwarted but amazing aviators to inspire anew.

At a time when stories of women’s career obstructions are being unearthed by the #MeToo movement, this documentary is a thrilling addition to calls for historical reckoning as well as a major shot in the arm for the next generation of girls excited about STEM learning. As with last year’s Hidden Figures heroines (the African-American women mathematicians of 1960s NASA), moxie abounds. Janey Hart, for one, was a mother of eight who, at forty years old, worked her way through the rigorous physical tests, learning only later that NASA found a “reason” that women couldn’t journey into space – they needed experience flying jets but weren’t actually allowed to fly them! Is it any surprise that Hart would put some of her efforts back into political organizing on the ground? As a founding member, Hart later helped the fledgling National Organization for Women take flight.

Filmmaker Bio(s)

Directors David Sington and Heather Walsh

David Sington started making films as an undergraduate at Cambridge University, and has never stopped. He has directed over thirty films and has won a similar number of awards. He has shot on every continent, and interviewed everyone from psychopaths to Nobel laureates, tribal elders to astronauts. His award-winning feature documentaries for DOX Productions include In the Shadow of the Moon (2007), The Flaw (2010), Thin Ice (2012), License to Krill (2014) and The Fear of 13 (2015).  

Heather Walsh is a British producer with 18 years experience in film and television.  She worked in television post production and production management prior to joining DOX Productions where she took on a more creative role on the award-winning series Moon Machines (2008).  Heather has produced major TV series and feature documentaries including the acclaimed history series The Churchills (2012), the multi award-winning Antarctic climate film License to Krill (2014) and most recently aviation series Survival in the Skies (2015).   

Film Details
  • Premiere status: World
  • Country(ies): USA
  • Year: 2018
  • Running time: 100
  • Director(s): David Sington, Heather Walsh
  • Producer(s): David Sington, Heather Walsh, Brendan J. Byrne, Trevor Birney, Geraldine Creed
  • Cinematographer(s): Nickolas Rossi
  • Editor(s): David Fairhead, Paul Holland
  • Music: Philip Sheppard

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