'It’s not a question of belief': the film examining government UFO records

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The question of unexplained phenomena and Unidentified Flying Objects have long fascinated the public, as the subject of feverish American news coverage in the years post-second world war and too many films and investigative documentaries to count, all landing on speculation without certainty. But the frenetic, oxygen-sucking rollercoaster of headlines in the Trump administration has overshadowed a cascade of strange evidence released by the government in recent years: in 2017, the New York Times revealed the existence of a shadowy, partly classified government program, the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP), which investigated UFO reports from deep within the Pentagon.

This is the grounding fact presented in The Phenomenon, a documentary from longtime UFO enthusiast James Fox which updates longstanding extraterrestrial theories with recent government regulations. Though the government said at the time that the program, which started in 2007 largely at the request of then Senate majority leader Harry Reid, was shuttered due to lack of funding in 2012, the New York Times later confirmed its continued existence as a renamed Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force, within the Office of Naval Intelligence.

The barrage of bureaucratic titles couched a startling revelation: for more than a decade, the Pentagon had conducted classified briefings for congressional committees, aerospace company executives and other government officials, based on sightings, video footage, and radar logs by military pilots of “unexplained aerial phenomena” which seemed to transcend existing flight technology – no visible engine at 30,000ft, hypersonic speed.