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Operation Avalanche is a triumph of cold war lunar lunacy


Rialto Films is releasing Operation Avalanche, the new comedy from director Matt Johnson. The film will be out on DVD March 22. “A cold war comedy thriller,” raves the New York Times, “pulsing with paranoia.”

It's 1967 and four Ivy League movie buffs are recruited by the CIA to pose as filmmakers to investigate a Russian mole who threatens to sabotage the Apollo space program. What they discover will lead to one of the biggest conspiracies in history.

Bugging phones by night and posing as filmmakers by day the small crew one night overhear a phone call in which they learn NASA has realised it does not have the technology to send man to the moon. Johnson, who also plays the lead as he did in his previously acclaimed The Dirties, approaches the CIA and convinces them to fake a moon landing in order to beat the Russians to the punch. It is decided they will infiltrate the set of Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey to make it happen.

Starring Johnson, Owen Williams and Josh Boles, Operation Avalanche is a found footage, period film lovingly detailed and just tricky enough to maintain the edifice of its documentary trappings while cleverly escalating the heightened clandestine activities and subsequent mentality of the era. The film festival smash hit will appeal to fans of cold war nostalgia, independent comedies and those in the growing camp eager to watch Johnson's career develop.

Chuck Bowen writing in Slate Magazine notes, “the film is a rarity: a found-footage gizmo that's infused with mysterious agency, transcending its gimmicky origins.”

Jeannette Catsoulis in the New York Times raves in her review. “Operation Avalanche weaves well-known conspiracy theories into a goofily entertaining satire of youthful ambition co-opted as a tool of government intrigue.”