IS DOCUDRAMA COINCIDENCE?
Film Review by Fiore
Just how safe are you when you fly? Aside from the usual concerns, thanks to members of the religion of peace, there may be more dangers than you realize, especially concerning the air you breathe. FLIGHT 313: THE CONSPIRACY is the latest in a continuing line of films, based on true events, that opt to forego the documentary genre for a more melodramatic look at their subjects. This one concerns the processed air circulated back into the passenger section of the plane through a jet’s engine system. I don’t believe in coincidences, so I found it rather disturbing both Delta and United announced a phase out of the 747 Boeing jets for the new 787 jets, just one week before this movie’s release. According to the film, the 787 is the only commercial aircraft fitted with an air filtration system to avoid the spread of toxins into the cockpit and passenger compartments. Curious timing, indeed.
FLIGHT 313: THE CONSPIRACY is also a solid lesson in investigative journalism, something missing from our major news sources for decades, with a few exceptions. With so much emphasis placed now on fake news, and those who report it, the movie harkens back to ALL THE PRESIDENTS MEN in providing a glimpse of what it takes, before a story is printed, or makes the airwaves.
Georgina Sutcliffe is Helen, an investigative reporter for a television news concern. The film opens with her botching an interview with a Middle Eastern rebel leader. Her lack of caution results in the death of two people, including her interview, and her dismissal from the network. Attempting to salvage a blemished career, she settles in Sussex, and takes a job below her past status, working for the Sussex Standard, a small town local newspaper. While covering mundane events, she stumbles upon a conspiracy to conceal a venting problem in commercial jets.
Helen’s husband, who is an air traffic controller, alerts her to the story, and her investigative techniques to expose the scandal become her obsession, much to the chagrin of her editor. Starring with Sutcliffe are Stephen Tompkinson, Rita Ramnani and a cameo by former STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION’s Counselor Troi, Marina Sirtis.
KEY SCENES TO LOOK FOR:
1. THE AIRPLANE RIDE
2. THE AIRLINE CONFERENCE
3. CHANGING THE TIRE
The process of investigative journalism is arduous and tedious, and does not translate well to film. As such, there are several annoying moments when the film slows noticeably. Even though there is judicious editing, the process at times bogs down the film’s pace. Tristan Loraine wrote, directs and cuts FLIGHT 313: THE CONSPIRACY. As with many independent films, one person, due to budget constraints, must wear many hats. While FLIGHT 313: THE CONSPIRACY plays well, Loraine stretched a bit too thin. He could have tightened up the film for a quicker pace.
I enjoyed watching this movie, primarily because of the task of the reporters to prove their information before publishing. It shows how numerous sources are used and cross referenced, and how the very unprofessional practice of naming ‘undisclosed sources’ or worse ‘anonymous sources’ is, as it should be, avoided. Where I still teaching, I would probably use FLIGHT 313: THE CONSPIRACY in a beginning journalism class as a springboard for discussions on sources and deadlines.
While I have a vested interest in this film due to its subject matter, I believe it still holds enough suspense and intrigue to merit a view. The movie is available on PPV and home video. When you are in the mood for a serious topic, but not the preachiness of a documentary, FLIGHT 313: THE CONSPIRACY will fit your bill.
THE GRADE FOR FLIGHT 313: THE CONSPIRACY = B