Distributor:  Bullfrog Films
Length:  73 minutes
Date:  2016
Genre:  Expository
Language:  English
Grade level: 10 -12, College, Adults
Color/BW:  Color
Closed captioning available
Interactive transcript available
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Contrasts sci-fi ideas about terraforming Mars with the state of NYC's waterways, and questions the viability of colonizing Mars before making our own planet sustainable.


Could humans live on Mars? Would we want to? Emmy-nominated filmmaker, Ian Cheney, provides insight into our currently unsustainable relationship with our home planet by examining the sci-fi speculation of 'terraforming,' or making another planet Earth-like, by altering its atmosphere. He calls on a multifaceted brain trust to process this big idea including a desert camp of Mars hopefuls, a bevy of sci-fi writers, Hurricane Sandy survivors, the Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club, and a who's who of astrobiologists and earth scientists. BLUESPACE makes a strong case for taking better care of our water-rich planet so that future generations won't have to resort to interplanetary colonization.

At times whimsical and funny, serious and poignant and always stimulating, this is a unique exploration of current thinking about the origins and evolution of life and its relationship to water.

'Stunning imagery and thought-provoking commentary...Bluespace engages its viewers with the surprisingly interconnected issues of terraforming Mars while preserving Earth...This film delivers a powerful statement, contrasting our scientific capabilities with our moral obligations in a way that is sure to provoke much discussion following its classroom or community screening.' Dr. Victor Baker, Professor of Hydrology and Water Resources, Professor of Planetary Sciences and Geosciences, University of Arizona

'Bluespace confronts our future dreams of terraforming Mars with our present reality of human activity affecting Earth. The film serves a potent reminder of the visual impact of human pollution on tangible scales.' Dr. Peter Plavchan, Assistant Professor of Physics, Astronomy and Materials Science, Missouri State University

'Beautiful and powerful imagery...Bluespace makes creative use of the idea of Mars terraforming to send a powerful message about saving our planet. The scientists are both charismatic and passionate and help us understand the issues and the consequences of our actions. Imagining the reshaping of Mars teaches us about ourselves and our relationship with our own planet.' Dr. Jocelyne DiRuggiero, Associate Professor of Biology at Johns Hopkins University

'This atmospheric film conveys the message that it's all very well and good to dream of terraforming Mars, but we'd better take stock of what is happening to Earth's water first.' John Peters, School Library Journal

'Recommended...Bluespace is good for inspiring young minds to think about the possibilities for the future of humans and carrying civilization to Mars and other worlds.' James Gordon, Educational Media Reviews Online

'Gorgeous images...Provocative questions...This is what Bluespace is teaching: what the idea of terraforming Mars can teach us about the ecology on Earth, ways we have corrupted the planet, and ideas to restore the Earth.' Deborah Stevens, NSTA Recommends


Big Sky Documentary Film Festival
Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital
Princeton Environmental Film Festival
Camden International Film Festival
Salem Film Festival


Main credits

Cheney, Ian (film director)
Cheney, Ian (film producer)
Cheney, Ian (editor of moving image work)
Cheney, Ian (cinematographer)

Other credits

Cinematography, Ian Cheney; original music, Simon Beins, Benand Fries.

Distributor credits

Wicked Delicate Films

Ian Cheney

Wicked Delicate Films
Ian Cheney
Cinematography and Editing: Ian Cheney
Original Score: Simon Beins, Ben Fries

Docuseek2 subjects

Future Studies
Toxic Chemicals
History of Science
Urban Ecosystems
Climate Change
Environmental Geography
Philosophy, Critical Thinking and Ethics
Social Aspects

Distributor subjects

Climate Change/Global Warming
Earth Science
Future Studies
Life Science
Physical Science
Space Exploration
Toxic Chemicals


terraforming Mars, NYC waterways, colonizing Mars, altering Mars' atmosphere, Mars hopefuls, sci-fi writers, Hurricane Sandy survivors, Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club, astrobioliogists, earth scientists, interplanetary colonization, evolution of life, life's relationship to water, Gowanus Canal, Giovanni Schiaparelli, Schiaparelli's telescope, Brera Observatory, Milan, terraforming, Percival Lowell, rising sea levels, astrobiology, new york city, science fiction, cyanobacteria, Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, Hurricane Sandy, Staten Island, Jamaica Bay, kayaking Meadowlands, oysters in New York Harbor, Kim Stanley Robinson, The Mars Trilogy, riverkeeper, Kerstin Kalchmayr, plants in outer space, Robert Crossley, Jim Wright, Anna Wolter, Carolina Salguaro, Mary A Whalen, Klaus Jacob, Chris McKay, NASA, Jon Rask, Jean Pierre de Vera, DLR Institute of Planetary Research, Berlin, Moe Mazilli, John Lipscomb, Steve Schmidt, Jean Hunter, Heather Hava, Owen Foote, Joe Tirone, Frank Lettieri, Mars canals; "Bluespace"; Bullfrog Films

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