Russian actress, director on making first-ever film in space: 'It posed both artistic and technical challenges'

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A Russian actor and a film director, who spent 12 days in orbit making the world's first movie in space, said on Tuesday they were so thrilled with their experience on the International Space Station that they felt sorry to leave.

Actor Yulia Peresild and director Klim Shipenko flew to the International Space Station in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft together with cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov. After a stint on the station, they returned to Earth on Sunday with another veteran Russian cosmonaut, Oleg Novitskiy.

Peresild and Klimenko filmed segments of a movie titled Challenge, in which a surgeon played by Peresild rushes to the space station to save a crew member who needs an urgent operation in orbit. Novitskiy, who flew the film crew home, stars as the ailing cosmonaut in the movie.

Speaking to reporters via video link on Tuesday, 37-year-old Peresild lamented that a busy filming schedule left little chance to enjoy the views. "We realised only a day before the departure that we didn't spend enough time looking in the windows," she said. "I had a mixed feeling. On the one hand, it felt like an eternity but on the other hand, it felt like we just arrived and immediately need to return."

Peresild and Shipenko said they were feeling fine but still were having some trouble adapting to the pull of gravity."We have to learn again how to walk," Peresild said, adding that she still instinctively tries to attach various items with Velcro to prevent them from floating away. She said she slept very well in orbit, and four hours of sleep were enough to have a good rest.

Shipenko, 38, who has made several commercially successful movies, said he filmed over 30 hours of movie material on board the space station."Of course, it posed both artistic and technical challenges," he said. Shipenko, who will continue the shooting on Earth after filming the space episodes of the movie, said the release date would be announced next year.

Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian state space corporation Roscosmos, was a key force behind the movie project, describing it as a chance to burnish the nation's space glory, and rejecting criticism from some Russian media over the efforts spent on it.

Before Russia took the lead in feature filmmaking in space, NASA had talked to actor Tom Cruise about making a movie in orbit. NASA confirmed last year that it was in talks with Cruise about filming on the International Space Station with SpaceX providing the lift. In May 2020, it was reported that Cruise was developing the project alongside director Doug Liman, Elon Musk, and NASA.

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