Space Race is a docu-drama series, in four episodes, chronicling the major events and characters in the USA/USSR space race. According to what BBC declared, for the first time old adversaries are brought together to work on a series: for this project, in fact, they joined a co-production partners in Russia, America, and Germany, the NDR.
Space Race is set at the heart of the Cold War, when the two superpowers and their ideologies - communism and capitalism - were seen as fundamentally opposed. The 'race' was to create the most powerful rocket and to land astronauts on the moon. The docu-drama tells of the pioneering experiments and catastrophic risks that cost untold amounts of money and ended scores of lives.
In the episode screened at the Festival (which also participated to the Drama and Docu-Drama Session last November), Race to the Moon, we see the parallel effort of the two competitors to realize the first manned lunar mission, and then the first manned lunar landing. The story focuses on Sergei Korolev, the Soviets' chief rocket designer, and Wernher von Braun, his counterpart in the USA; it reveals the ruthless, brilliant scientists who played a crucial part in the space race and the levels of human endurance required to lead the field.
The fact checking of the historical periods, but also of the character portrayal, is rigorous. Production went back to original primary sources in Russia to shed light on some of the leading characters behind the Soviet space programme who were barely known to the West. Such was the fear that Western agents would assassinate top Soviets rocket experts, in fact, that the names of some of their leaders were constantly shadowed by the KGB.