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Film gives stars the space to shine

Actress delivers a stellar performance in Russian movie shot aboard the ISS, Xu Fan reports.

By Xu Fan | China Daily | Updated: 2024-03-22 06:52

A poster for the movie. [Photo provided to China Daily]

When Russian actress Yulia Peresild appeared at a downtown cinema in Beijing, she quickly stole the spotlight. "Hello, everyone, I'm taikong jie (space sister)," says Peresild, wearing a bright smile, greeting the local audience in her newly learned Mandarin.

As the first actress in human history to shoot a film in space, she was selected from around 3,000 candidates to spend 12 days aboard the International Space Station for the filming of the Russian movie, The Challenge.

Nearly one year after its debut in Russia, the film, which fictionalizes the story of a female surgeon sent to space to perform an operation on an injured cosmonaut, hit Chinese mainland theaters on March 15.

In addition to the tense plot, which is a race against time to save a life, the movie showcases the stunning scenery of space, taking the audience on a journey with the actress, offering a close look at how the cosmonauts work and live inside the ISS, which orbits more than 400 kilometers above the Earth.

Despite a tight schedule, Peresild, a 39-year-old native of Pskov in northwestern Russia, participated in a series of activities, from sharing her space-travel stories with Beijing fans, to visiting scenic spots like the Great Wall and bustling Nanluoguxiang lane.

Russian director Klim Shipenko pictured aboard the International Space Station in 2021 while shooting The Challenge, the first movie to be shot in space. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Peresild recalls that she and director Klim Shipenko underwent rigorous training for three-and-a-half months at a cosmonaut training center in Russia between late May and early October in 2021, including 17 days in quarantine due to the pandemic. The training included taking a centrifuge test — Peresild endured a very respectable 22 minutes — and observing how thoracic surgeries are performed.

Before her historic space journey, Peresild wrote a farewell letter to her two young daughters. She only recently shared it with them while recording her book, It's Space, Baby!, detailing her journey into orbit.

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