The Other Side of Mars

We already are on Mars - by means of the cameras used by Mars science missions. What can we know - and not know- via images?

Vandi Verma has an exceptional understanding of the Martian landscape because of her work as a NASA Mars mission rover driver and roboticist. Her work of operating the rover in the Martian terrain relies to a large part on images and the technological use of them. Filmed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and neighbouring observatories, the film creates a philosophical journey into the peculiar world of Martian photography. Through the lenses of various scientists and engineers, we learn how NASAs’ images are made, used and manipulated for the sake of science, but also public information. Mars is the ideal place for an investigation into our paradoxical relationship to photography. Do images reflect reality or shape it?

Winner of the Testimony on Knowledge Award at Ji.hlava IDFF.

Jury statement: The film shows that even scientific photos of the planet Mars which we might percieve as a pure representation of reality are actually reshaping the reality into something we understand and expect. The extreme example of scientific picturing of an object which we have no direct experince with makes the audience ask: How are the pictures from all the current problems on the Earth reshaped by our expectations and ability to understand.

Country: Finland
Shot in: California, USA
Year of completion: 2019
Length: 56 min
Format: DCP

Appearing in the film:

Vandi Verma
Rob Manning
Dawn Sumner
Janet Vertesi
Grant Wythoff

Written and directed by: Minna Långström
Produced by Liisa Karpo
Cinematography: Päivi Kettunen FSC
Sound design: Pelle Venetjoki
Music: Mira Calix
Editing: Minna Långström
Additional Editing: Nina Ijäs
Production Company: napafilms oy

Supported by Kone Foudation. Production support: The Finnish Film Foundation / Piia Nokelainen, AVEK / Outi Rousu, in co-operation with YLE / Sari Volanen.

Photos of The Other SIde of Mars