Encounters (2023) s01e02 Episode Script


[suspenseful music playing]
[bird squawks]
[reporter] Following a sighting
of a peculiar object
in the skies of Zimbabwe,
the ZBC was overwhelmed by callers
from all over Zimbabwe,
describing the unidentified flying object.
[man 1] So what-what time of day
did this, uh, event occur?
At break time.
You could just see,
like, little lights flickering.
The being would have been
this far away, where you can see details.
And I saw this person.
And it had big eyes.
[man 1] A man that looked like
a regular man or different
No, he was all black.
- [man 1] All black?
- Yes. And his eyes were looking funny.
They were making funny shapes
and all that.
What was it What did it feel like
when he was looking at you?
I felt scared.
It seemed that he was looking
at all of us.
His eyes looked at me as if,
"I want you to come with me."
"I want you to come."
[man 1] You think the kids
are telling the truth or do
[woman 1] No, I think
that I'd rather not think about it again.
Because now if I think about it tonight,
I'll have another sleepless night.
I'm afraid. I'm-I'm shit scared.
I'm terrified.
Um, I thought the aliens would attack me.
- [man 1] Would attack you and do what?
- Yes.
What if we're abducted or something?
[man 2] Something happened to these folks.
We can't understand it,
but something happened.
And these people are not mentally ill.
They're just not mentally ill.
[woman 2] There were over 60 kids
that saw what I saw.
We weren't making things up.
[suspenseful music continues]
[man 3] The story is about the truth
actually coming out.
You don't know what that's gonna be,
but eventually the truth comes out.
[bird squawking]
[mysterious music playing]
[man 1] From the beginning
of recorded time,
men have been seeing
unexplainable things in the sky.
[woman] Are we alone in the universe?
[man 2] Somewhere in the data
will be something worth real inquiry.
We have not been hiding anything.
There are such things
as interplanetary spaceships.
I thought it was an alien,
and he had big eyes.
[man 3] There's something
profoundly important going on here
that is authentic and real.
[music fades out]
Okay, I'm Ralph Blumenthal.
I was a reporter for The New York Times
for 45 years.
I now contribute to the Times.
I write books.
Well, the biggest risk
in this whole field,
and I've encountered it myself
writing about it, is ridicule.
Now, that's not by accident. The, um
Our government, unfortunately,
in the '50s, uh, made a policy decision
to-to ridicule people who
who had sightings of UFOs
and came forward
with these fantastic stories.
And that stigma has lasted to this day.
Um, you never really know, you know,
when you write something,
what the effect is gonna be.
And, uh, the Times ran it
on the front page on a Sunday.
It was an earthquake. [chuckles]
We accompanied the story with videos,
Navy videos, which had not been seen,
until then, publicly.
These were among the most watched videos
ever put out by The New York Times.
And, you know, I
I don't I'm not saying this,
other people are saying this,
but it sort of made the subject
more accessible to the mainstream media,
and people were more comfortable
reporting about it.
But, you know,
we didn't talk about aliens,
and the Pentagon's not talking
about aliens.
So that's that's an area
that we haven't gone into,
with good reason.
Because how do you deal with it?
I mean, you come into your editor and say,
"I got a story about a guy
who saw a UFO in his backyard."
And the editor will laugh and say,
"Okay. Give me 500 words on it,
and, you know, make it funny."
But to these people
who had these encounters,
it wasn't really funny at all.
They know what they saw.
People have seen things
that they don't understand.
And just because
we don't understand something
doesn't mean we shouldn't talk about it.
[birds twittering]
[woman] Ariel was a great place to learn.
We weren't in the classroom much.
I'm so privileged to have experienced
driving to school and seeing a giraffe.
[laughs] You know, um Having a
Having a game park next to your school,
next to your high school.
[children chattering]
But where are your hats?
[Emma] The teachers were very passionate
about education.
Aren't you supposed to wear your hats?
[Emma] We were a community,
and we definitely could trust
all the adults that were around us,
whether they were teachers, volunteers.
They all made us
feel safe and feel connected.
Has he got friends already?
- [Emma] Ariel School was a second family.
- [woman 2] Show me where.
I went to Ariel School,
which is quite a good school,
you know, a private school.
And, for the most part,
raised reading the Bible,
understanding things
from that Christian perspective.
And my brother was in the same path.
[indistinct chatter]
[man] I know that it did have
an impact on what I experienced,
to see it and to view it in a certain way.
- [interviewer] So why are we here today?
- [chuckles softly]
To hear my side of the story. [chuckles]
[interviewer] What is your side
of the story?
I guess it's what I saw, right?
[clears throat] On that day.
I guess I'm gonna tell the world.
[clears throat]
[interviewer] Where would you like
to start?
[children chattering]
[Emma] So we were at recess.
I was in Year 6,
and the teachers had gone
on a quick staff meeting,
so Salma and I were kind of roaming
on that out-of-bounds area.
[indistinct chatter]
[Emma] And I remember
that there was a bright light,
really close by, just above the grass.
And both Salma and I kind of went,
"Ooh, what's that?"
[Salma] It was very shiny. It was bright.
You would see it one moment.
You wouldn't see it another moment.
It was almost like our eyes
were playing tricks on us. Um
And then my friend Emma
and I were kind of
She had come and was standing next to me.
I saw
a little object hovering.
It was quite big, actually.
And then there were little ones
all around it.
[man] Mm-hmm.
And it looked as if
they were changing spaceships.
They were like ants,
doing what they needed to do,
whatever it was.
Just here were the ships.
One There was a big one.
Yeah, from about there to about
And then in diameter.
Silver, shiny disc
with lights.
On the lower half of it,
there were lights.
It was like [clicking tongue]
Then I saw, uh, like a door.
And then suddenly he was over there.
And he was right in front of us.
I blinked,
and then I saw the being less than
like one meter or two away from me.
The being would have been
no further than this far away,
where you can see details.
And it was a bright, sunny day.
So there was definitely no mistaking
what we were looking at.
The clothing was black, very skintight,
like a scuba-diving outfit.
- Like diving suits, deep-sea diving.
- [man] Mm-hmm.
And it had, like, a very big head.
Oval, kind of, like a pointy chin
that kind of came down like this.
It had big eyes.
That's all I saw about it.
Big eyes and a black body.
Huge eyes
that you just can't not look towards.
And once we got that eye connection,
everything else around us
just disappeared.
[intriguing ambient music plays]
[music fades out]
[man] What scared you?
- The noise.
- [man] What noise?
[inhales] The noise
that we heard in the air.
- [man] You heard a noise in the air?
- Yes.
[man] What was it like?
Like a roar or a buzz or a hum?
Or what kind of a noise?
It was like someone was playing a flute.
[unsettling ambient music playing]
[Salma] It didn't touch me, physically.
But it felt like, with that stare,
it touched every ounce of my body.
[Emma] And that's when
I started feeling messages.
The ideas just came across over into
into me, into my being.
It wasn't talking. It was
It was almost telepathic.
It was just a feeling of
this overwhelming feeling
of how important the environment is.
We need to make sure that the environment
is is our first priority
and that we all make the right choices
for the environment.
We need clean air, beautiful plants,
clean soil to be able to live and thrive.
Animals to plants
to just everything around us.
I think they want people to know
that we're actually making harm
on this world,
and we mustn't get too technologed.
I don't think
I could even say the word "technology,"
um, when I was at that age, so I-I
And I remember
being interviewed by people,
and I would say things like, um,
"Don't get too technologized,"
or, you know
The message was very clear,
that technology is not going
is-is only going to develop further,
and it's not going to do
any humans any good.
[man] How did that
get communicated to you?
- Through words, or
- My conscience, I think.
- [man] Your what?
- My conscience told me.
- [man] So your conscience told you?
- Yah, it came through my head.
[Emma] I had never felt that sense of
[mysterious ambient music playing]
Just unfortunate that what happened
in the aftermath was not as peaceful and
and nice.
[birds twittering]
Last time I was here was 20 years ago,
I think, or a little bit longer than that.
It was when I finished at,
uh, Ariel School.
And now I remember
why my mother wanted me to come here.
Being out in nature,
it's just so wonderful.
[lighter flicking]
[interviewer] So did you see the UFO?
No, I didn't see a UFO.
I, uh, made up the whole thing.
[smacks lips] Uh
So, uh, myself and a friend,
we were discussing
how we could get off Shona lessons.
A few of our friends
were native Zimbabweans,
and so their mother language
would have been Shona.
And I really wish I'd paid more attention,
because my Shona is not great,
and I really wish it was better.
And I really wanted to get out of Shona
in at any opportunity I could.
And, uh, we came up with a crazy idea,
which never ever should have worked.
At the time, I can't see it now,
but at the time, there was a
there was a rock.
A very, very shiny rock,
and it was shining in the sun.
And, uh, you know,
so I pointed and I'm like,
"Look, yah, there's-there's a spaceship!
There's an alien!"
And the Grade 1s, Grade 2s were like,
"Ah, really?" I'm like, "Yeah, aliens!"
And within half an hour,
all the kids were talking about it.
All the kids were running around.
Um, the whole school was buzzing.
[Salma] It could have been a millisecond.
It could have been ten minutes.
All I know is, when I was able
to eventually let go of Emma's hand,
the playground was in chaos.
[children clamoring]
There were 60 kids that saw what I saw.
[Kudzanai] You know, short, long arms.
Crazy, greenish, oval-shaped head.
Some pretty big eyes.
And I'm shit scared. I'm terrified.
[children clamoring, screaming]
Maybe it was the shimmering of the rock
or, you know, I don't know.
But, uh, there was definitely
no aliens running around.
[Kudzanai] "What if a laser beam
cuts our heads off?"
All kinds of things, you know,
but I was just in panic.
[Dallyn] Why would aliens
come to a school, run around,
not make actual contact with anybody?
You know,
so they've traveled from galaxies.
You know,
you're not gonna risk that chance
of coming thousands of miles away
to talk to to children.
And I wasn't trying to find out, like,
"Okay, what's gonna happen next?"
Or, "Why are they here?"
I don't remember looking back,
because I was terrified.
[Dallyn] I couldn't believe
what I was seeing.
You're seeing all these people
literally pointing at a rock
and saying, "It's a UFO."
But that's the thing with children is,
they do play these imaginary games.
And before you know it, they
they really, truly believe it.
So it definitely was not a rock. [laughs]
I know what a rock looks like.
And, I mean, anyone could say,
"What else could it have been?"
"Could it have been this?
Could it have been that?"
"Could it" [mutters]
I don't know. I didn't go up and touch it.
But what it was not was a rock.
[chuckles] Yeah.
- [somber string music playing]
- [bird twittering]
[Dallyn] If it had happened, I don't think
I would have just stood there
and looked at the rock and pointed.
I would have actually moved
towards the alien.
I would have gone up to the spaceship.
Because when else are you gonna get
an opportunity like that,
to actually physically go up to the alien?
You know, a lot of people obviously
argue with me, tell me I'm a liar,
tell me all sorts of things,
but, you know, I have to be honest
with myself, first of all.
And my truth is there were no aliens.
My truth is
that it was a rumor that started,
and you guys believe
that you saw something.
I do apologize
for calling you guys out on your bullshit.
But, sorry, I have to be honest.
[Salma] I do not have any doubt
about what I saw that day.
have never doubted what I saw.
[Dallyn] And let's be honest,
you know, children lie.
You know, they're not as innocent
as we would like to believe they are.
"That means you're saying
that 60 people lied?"
Yeah, 60 people lied.
[man] It's 1994,
and I'd just finished litigating
the first large sex abuse case
against the Catholic Church.
And I was sitting in my office,
and I got a telephone call
from this very prominent lawyer,
who's in the western part of the country.
And he said to me,
"Eric, I have a case for you."
And he told me
it was about a Harvard professor
who believed in aliens.
And he was the chief of psychiatry
at Cambridge Hospital.
He'd won the Pulitzer Prize,
you know, like, created the first
outpatient mental hospital in the country,
who's done great work, is now claiming
that there's a phenomenon out there,
involving aliens,
that we don't understand.
I said, "Well, he probably needs
some serious mental health assistance."
Um, but I was told
that he was a tenured professor,
and there was a secret proceeding
that was about to take place,
uh, with a committee at Harvard,
to remove his tenure.
Which, I was told, was the first time
that had ever happened
in the 350-year history
of Harvard University.
So that piqued my interest.
[reporter] This is a guy
to take seriously.
He's won the Pulitzer Prize.
He built, from scratch,
the psychiatry department
at Cambridge Hospital,
now a trophy on the Harvard showcase
of teaching hospitals.
You know, traditionally in psychiatry,
if a patient were to come to you
and report that they'd had contact
with alien creatures,
it would be, uh,
almost automatically assumed, I think,
that this is a-a
this person is likely to be psychotic.
That was my initial reaction
when I first heard about
this type of case.
[Eric] John had conducted
over 150 interviews
with people who claimed
to have been abducted by aliens,
about 70 of which I spoke to.
And they were tortured by the fact
that no one would listen to them.
People would dismiss them as psychotic.
And, as John looked at it,
they weren't mentally ill,
but they were traumatized.
As far as I could tell,
and this has become clearly established,
having now worked with 90 such people,
there was no apparent psychiatric illness
that could account for this.
[chatter over recorder]
[Eric] If they're describing something
that's very similar
to what others are describing,
and we're discounting it as saying,
"Well, this didn't happen"
What did happen? What did occur?
That's what John was saying.
Did you approach it
as a wanting to believe
or as a huge skeptic?
I approached it as a huge skeptic.
I mean, to me, it could not be.
This is not something that is possible.
There can't be that kind of intelligence
working in our universe.
There must be something different
to explain this thing.
So let's find out what it's about.
Let's do careful studies
of every aspect of this.
That's what I would like to see.
[Eric] John was starting
to become a celebrity.
And he was on all the talk shows,
with his rumpled suit
and stains on his tie. [chuckles]
For the last four years,
Dr. Mack has studied about 100 patients
who claim they have been abducted
by aliens.
Dr. Mack is a respected professor
who teaches at Harvard University.
- A Harvard psychiatrist
- A Harvard psychiatrist
[Eric] And he was outspoken.
And Harvard,
what they couldn't tolerate
was the fact
that John was out there on television
and Harvard was being associated
with something
that was highly controversial.
There's a pattern here that
that, as a psychiatrist, I can't explain.
Okay, when we come back,
Sharon shares with us the terror she feels
when she's had an encounter with an alien.
Harvard's position was
that John had committed malpractice.
That John, um,
should not have accepted these patients
without treating them
with either medication
or intensive psychotherapy,
that these patients were psychotic,
and that by, um, listening to them
and not discounting
what they claim to have experienced,
John was harming them.
Hundreds of thousands of people,
all over the country,
from various polls, we know,
maybe even millions of people,
have had very similar experiences.
They don't know each other.
The details that they're describing
were not in the media.
They have nothing to gain by it.
They feel ashamed about it.
That's number one.
When I also heard that this was occurring
in children as young as two
or three years old,
that ruled out personality explanations.
And, as said before,
the people, when examined,
are not psychiatrically disturbed.
So the only thing that behaves like that
is real experience.
[Eric] At stake was
his entire professional career.
His license to practice medicine.
And John said,
"Okay, I'm not gonna roll over here."
"I'm gonna stand up to them."
Something we can't explain
is going on here
that needs to be looked at realistically
and not sort of ridiculed.
[Eric] So John went to Ruwa, Zimbabwe,
to prove that there was
something significant
that happened to these individuals,
and we need to keep our minds open
and-and not be just narrowly focused
on the material world.
Okay, how-how many of them
actually say that they
What happened? Oh.
[Ralph] So I was working
on my John Mack book.
Uh, actually took me 17 years
from beginning to end.
And that's what intrigued me,
that John Mack
would put his career on the line,
um, to investigate this, uh,
what I call a disreputable subject.
And you can say, "Well, you know,
there's no scientific proof."
Well, there isn't,
but Mack dealt in an area where
there really isn't scientific proof.
[bottles clinking]
[serene ambient music playing]
[woman] I'm not here to be liked.
It's not my job.
It's not a popularity poll.
I'm here to run a good school
with a good reputation,
and that's that's what I do.
Someone asked why I've been here 33 years.
Maybe it's 'cause I'm lazy. I don't know.
Get up, dress up, show up.
That's what you have to do,
even if you don't want to, every day.
Whether I want to be there or not,
I am there because that is my duty.
[ambient music continues]
I'm here to run a Christian school,
but I'm of a faith that's my own.
I don't go to church.
I don't need to go to church to find God.
I know He's there.
He knows where my problems are.
[chuckling] There are some things
you just don't need to question in life.
You just accept.
And that's what I allow it to be.
[birds twittering]
[dog barking in distance]
[tranquil ambient music playing]
Oh, is this being recorded?
Yeah, I feel like a little kid again.
Yeah. Breaking school rules. [chuckles]
If Mrs. Bates finds out,
she's gonna kill me.
You know, you try and live a normal life,
you try and move on,
but it's always this experience that just
just opens up wars again.
- [child screams]
- [Lisil] I could hear the kids
[children clamoring, screaming]
the other kids screaming, crying,
but it was just like
I was being drawn in by this-this being.
And I remember seeing big, black eyes.
And [inhales deeply]
I don't know if it was telepathic.
I don't know.
But the message I was receiving
and the message I remember
was that we were harming the planet.
But growing up those days,
we didn't really
um, discuss those kind of things.
We just, like
[sighs] We just blocked it out,
and we just moved on.
It was just really traumatizing.
I think the next time we spoke about it
was when John Mack asked me
to describe what we saw,
and I just felt safe
that I could talk to him.
I felt safe
that he believed what we had seen.
[reporter] So, Professor Mack, you've been
in Zimbabwe now for about ten days.
What's your opinion,
having spoken to these children
at Ariel School, as such?
I approached these two days
trying to keep an open mind
about whether these kids were, um,
stirred by, say,
the imagination of one of them,
and then told a story,
or something like that.
And we interviewed
about a dozen children individually.
[Emma] He had been
one of the last reporters
to come to the school.
News crews from everywhere
came to talk to us,
and I wasn't taken seriously. [chuckles]
[John] What was the effect,
to be looking at these eyes
or have these eyes looking at you?
What How did that affect you?
- Scary.
- [John] It was scary?
Now maybe they'll understand my story
and they'll listen to me,
and they'll help me make sense
of what's going on for me.
[young Emma] Mum tucks me in sometimes.
And she tucks you in,
and then do you go right to sleep,
or do you, kind of,
stay awake thinking for a while?
I stay awake, and I I get scared
with every single noise I hear.
- [John] You still get afraid at night?
- Yes.
[John] You do. And what do you
What do you worry about now at night?
I worry that the man
is still looking at me,
and he's gonna kill me.
[John] Does your mom know you're worried?
Did you tell her how worried you are?
No. Most probably,
she-she won't believe me.
[John] What would convince you
that you're safe?
I don't know.
[John] What could make you feel
less worried?
[breathes deeply]
[young Lisil] The man,
he's just always in my mind.
- [John] He just won't go out of your mind?
- Yes.
[John] Mm-hmm.
And how
So, what
What would make you less worried?
Is there something the man could do?
[Kudzanai] So there was a guy who came.
I remember him being very tall
and, you know, slow and deliberate.
He was really kind of
[John] If you could just tell me,
you know, like, what happened that day.
Like, you're You were outside,
I guess, at the break, right?
[girl] Yes.
[John] And-And then what was the first
the first thing that you
that you noticed?
We went down
to the bottom of the playground.
[Kudzanai] "Hey, tell me,
what did you see?"
"How did you feel?" You know?
"Did you get a sense
that they were communicating with you?"
I remember these questions.
And then, yeah, they gave us
some pieces of paper,
some colors, and they said,
"Draw what you saw."
Right? And I drew.
I'm drawing the ship.
[suspenseful ambient music playing]
[boy 1] With a couple of lights.
[John] Arms, would you say long or short,
compared to our arms?
[boy 1] Well, kind of long.
[John] Kind of long. Mm-hmm.
- Okay. But you did see hair?
- [boy 2] Yes.
The hair was a bit like Michael Jackson.
And they had a black suit, like this.
[music continues]
[John] And these big eyes. Okay.
And you've made pupils.
Did they actually have pupils or
- [boy 2] Yes, the pupils were white.
- [John]solid black?
Eyes that are are bigger than ours.
[music fading out]
- [John] What happened then?
- [girl] Um
It was at the end of break time.
And then when we went back into the class,
we told our teacher,
but none of the teachers believed us.
[John] They wouldn't believe you? Really?
- Yes.
- But you all told the same story.
The The teachers didn't believe us.
At all.
Um, they thought
maybe we just saw something,
but they they didn't believe
it was beings
and, you know, this, like,
this oval thing that we saw.
- We actually tried to fob it off at first.
- [John] Yeah.
Um, and we just carried on as normal.
[Judy] I don't even recall
speaking to the children about it all.
'Cause we were dealing with something
we had never dealt with before.
So you stick to what you know,
in your classroom.
I live here at the school,
so I try not to think about it at all.
- [woman chuckles]
- If I do, I'll have sleepless nights.
- [man 1] Then you'd have sleepless nights?
- I do!
I've had a lot of sleepless nights
since it happened.
So I try to put it out of my mind.
One of the first things that we were told
was that there was a gardener down there
that was gardening.
Um, "And I don't want you
to be talking about this any further."
I'm still very skeptical about children,
because I think they can, um,
convince themselves of what they see
and-and get excited amongst themselves.
How do they know what we've seen?
And that was not a gardener.
[man 2] They didn't see anything.
I think somebody created
this make-believe story
that they actually created.
That's my feeling.
When you've been working with children
as long as I have, you have to be cautious
as to how you interpret
what they actually tell you.
[Dallyn] They are their own individuals.
They have to choose what they believe.
Maybe they truly believe
that they'd seen it.
But I'm sorry to tell you
that it never happened,
and they're lying to themselves.
I might have lied once or twice,
but the rest of the people,
they continued the story for me.
[Eric] Sixty children lie?
Lie about what they saw,
or are being put up to it
by their friends?
That's a pretty big group.
If I can get five 16-year-olds testifying
that one particular teacher
or priest was a predator,
that's really powerful evidence,
and I win the case.
Okay, so all 60 people,
describing the same experience,
why should we discount that?
This is the kind of evidence
that is very powerful in-in legal circles.
[somber string music playing]
In court, we credit eyewitness testimony.
People are convicted of murder
on eyewitness testimony.
They're sentenced to death
and executed on eyewitness testimony.
And Mack said, "Look, this is what I do."
"I'm a psychiatrist.
I talk to people all the time."
"I-I kinda judge
when they're telling me the truth
and when they're, you know, not,
making up a story."
So when the people told Mack
these stories, uh, recounted them,
they it was with
what he called "suitable affect."
In other words, they displayed the terror
that they felt at the time.
And he felt certain
that this was not something
people can easily make up.
- Listen, I have a hard time with this.
- [Oprah] Why?
'Cause I don't wanna believe it.
I really don't.
These people were expressing,
with such intense feeling,
something that was so meaningful
and powerful for them, with great fear.
And as a psychiatrist,
there's nothing but real experience
that-that is like that.
I wish that they'd talked to us more,
they'd really asked us questions,
or make us feel like we're not so crazy.
I couldn't talk about it in my house
because my dad didn't want to know
what was going on.
He didn't want to have
the stigma behind him.
My parents were just, like, straight up,
"No! You didn't see that!"
We were scared of getting smacked.
[John] It's not a matter
of what we believe.
It's what their experience is
and how they find the adults around them
being receptive to that experience.
And I think that
that's probably one
of the rock-bottom educational principles.
That whatever your personal point of view,
politics, prejudice may be,
it's that you give
an opportunity for ideas
and expression of feelings and thoughts
to be openly communicated.
[Emma] I lost friends because of it.
I was the crazy person
who just wouldn't drop the fact
that it wasn't a gardener.
[captivating ambient music playing]
Because I was the person
that said that this had happened.
So there was a lot of stigma
at that stage.
Ordinarily, we would not even
put people on television
who make such bizarre claims.
To be honest,
their stories do sound really crazy.
[audience laugh]
In a lot of ways, the experience itself
was less traumatic than the aftermath.
The aftermath was a lot.
So it really impacted some people,
you know?
And then you gotta ask a question,
you know
You know, these individuals,
did they have psychological issues before?
Or has Or did that day,
that experience of people lying,
did that create psychological issues
for those individuals?
In the four years we've been on the air,
we've never done a show about aliens.
Quite frankly, the reason is
because a lot of us are skeptical.
At the beginning, I'm searching,
I'm seeking, I'm asking people
up until a point where
At a certain point,
they started getting hostile.
The most hostile was this youth pastor,
who basically went red in the face.
He's saying like,
"No, aliens don't exist."
He was really tryna get me
to not ask those questions.
And I'd started feeling a lot more
like I'm the crazy one.
Why do we treat people
like they're crazy and humiliate them
if they are experiencing
some other entity,
some other intelligence
that's coming across?
Why is everybody thought crazy
if they have
if some intelligence is coming to them,
and they're honestly experiencing
that this is the case?
In a time where you are growing up
and you're not being believed
about a really important thing,
that meant that when I had
other important things happen to me,
or or just life happen,
I found it very difficult to then
open up to anybody else
and tell them about anything
that happened.
People have said to me
I should go and see a counselor,
or I should go and talk to someone
about these things.
But I don't because
will they believe me, or will I go
have to go through that fight again
of "this is what happened"?
[John] People who have these experiences
are being truthful.
We don't know
what the source of the experiences is,
but it's important to accept
that they are speaking truthfully
about something very powerful
that has happened to them.
And And yet,
why should this be so remarkable
when we claim to believe in-in God
and all kinds of spirits?
And yet, there's something about this one,
which takes a form
that is particularly, um,
alien to us.
As I understand it, there are people now,
including the headmistress of the school,
who have that same recollection.
[ethereal melodic hum]
[cricket chirping]
[Judy] I couldn't tell you
when I had my experience.
But it was after what the children saw
and before Professor Mack came.
[unsettling ambient music playing]
[kettle whistling faintly]
[Judy] But I haven't spoken about it.
It was nighttime, in my bedroom.
And then
I was taken on the craft.
[music continues]
On a narrow bed
which I found funny because I'm quite fat.
[chuckling] It was like,
"God, I hope I don't fall off this!"
Just very narrow.
And these little people are around you.
"People." Aliens.
And they said, "Don't look up."
And of course I looked up,
because that's who I am.
[music intensifies]
They inserted something
in my belly button.
It could have been a microchip.
- [music crescendos]
- [kettle whistling intensifies]
And then there was the flash,
and they left.
[whistling ends]
Sounds like a movie, doesn't it?
But it wasn't. It was my experience,
nobody else's business.
Just deal with it quietly on my own,
which didn't help
because I then ended up on Prozac.
And I wasn't happy at the school.
And I just was like, "Yeah, well,
maybe I shouldn't be around any longer."
To the point of suicide, maybe?
I don't know.
[peaceful instrumental music playing]
But there would have been no way
I would have spoken about it
with Professor Mack or anyone who came in.
I kept very much in the background.
[children chattering cheerfully]
Then they came back again,
and they said, did I wanna go with them?
Because I was so unhappy.
And I'm like, "No. No."
Then they came back
the third and final time
and said, "Right. We're leaving.
This is your last chance."
"Do you wanna go with us?"
And I said, "No, I've got to do
what I've been trained to do."
And that you don't leave a project.
You see it through.
You good? Hello. How are you?
It was nice of them to ask.
[chuckling] But, no, I wasn't gonna go.
It was better for the children.
So they left.
[children chattering cheerfully]
[singing in Shona]
[orchestral music playing]
[reporter, in English] John Mack may be
off with the pixies, or the aliens,
but he still draws a healthy salary.
And Harvard professors
are never ever sacked.
[interviewer] Doctor,
is the profession embarrassed
when one of your colleagues, uh,
puts forward theories like this?
Oh, yes, we're very embarrassed,
and embarrassed for the profession
and a little worried about John himself.
- [interviewer] He's gone off the rails?
- Well, uh
John is a man of great gift
and great intelligence,
but he's also a man of
who tends to take on enthusiasms.
And then this time, he's gone
yeah, gone too far.
[inhales deeply, sighs]
John has lost it this time.
Harvard was saying
that John had committed malpractice,
and that came up repeatedly
in the hearings.
And the theory of Harvard was,
"By not telling these people
that they're psychotic,
by not putting them
on tranquilizing medication
for their psychoses,
you are committing malpractice."
These patients do have
psychological problems,
and those problems are being masked
by, uh, this idea
that the explanation is this crazy one.
[Kudzanai] When I got into high school,
probably my second and third year,
I got very religious.
And I'm asking my pastor,
at that time, youth pastor,
"Right." Like, "Okay." Like, "I get it."
You know, "Jesus came to Earth
and died for our sins and everything,
but where did he come from?"
And I remember asking him then,
"Could it be possible
that he was an alien?"
And I was like,
"I've witnessed this. I've seen this."
And he kind of shrugged it off,
and he's just like, "No, you didn't."
"Right? You didn't see it."
Literally, I had people saying,
"No, you didn't. You did not see that."
I-I remember this one white pastor,
actually, saying to me
"You know, your experiences
that you had as a child,
they don't matter."
"Who you are, as an African,
is irrelevant."
He actually used the word "irrelevant."
I can't bring my own individuality.
And as big as the world is,
with so many different people,
kinds of people, and languages,
you want to erase all of that
and say it doesn't matter?
You know, so that led me on a journey,
searching and and asking questions.
You know, they've been lying to themselves
for so many years,
maybe they actually need somebody
to say to them
[snaps finger]
"It never happened. Wake up!"
And so that they can start healing
from the lie they've been
telling themselves for so many years
and eventually believed the lie
that they're telling themselves.
[somber ambient music playing]
[Emma] About 20 years,
I tried to keep that hidden.
I tried to keep that down.
And as a result,
I lost a lot of my childhood.
And I lost a lot of my memories
of my childhood,
because I couldn't open that wound.
I couldn't open that trauma.
[John] And when you hear a noise,
what do you imagine it is?
I think it's people coming into my house,
wanting to steal me
and steal all my toys and
- [John] Mm-hmm.
- everything.
[Emma] And then I wasn't able
to really talk about it to my husband.
He's a very traditional Catholic,
and he questioned me and said, "What"
"What-What is this documentary
really about?"
And I said, "Well" [scoffs]
"for a very long time, I was scared
that if I did tell you that you would
think that I was crazy,
so you wouldn't wanna be with me."
And, initially, he was like, "Yeah, nah."
"This can't be happening!"
[chuckles] "I can't be married
to someone that's seen aliens!"
[brakes squeaking]
[Eric] I walked into this courtroom
that they'd assembled at Harvard.
And there was a big,
kind of, semicircular dais,
where these three doctors were sitting.
It looked kind of like a tribunal.
And we collected affidavit and statements
and gave testimony from people
who say that John saved their lives,
and they might have committed suicide,
in some cases, were it not for John.
I wasn't heard by the adults
that I trusted.
Whereas with John Mack,
we didn't have to try to make him believe
what we had seen.
And I know
that he copped a lot of flak for it too.
He-He didn't walk away
from this experience peacefully at all.
And he had to fight for us.
This went on for 14 months.
And we're having all these hearings.
And, of course, by then,
word of this star chamber had leaked out.
People were outraged
that John was going through this.
And I think the fact that it leaked out
was one of the reasons
why Harvard decided to retreat.
I'm pretty thick-skinned about it,
and I'd certainly expected, you know,
if you're rattling the cage of a worldview
with something
that's just not supposed to be,
you're gonna the empire will strike back.
You gotta expect that.
The people at the highest levels
of the university realized
that this was nothing more
than a witch hunt
and put an end to it.
That was empowering. That was so
That was [sighs]so healing.
We came away convinced
that an extraordinary event occurred here,
quite unique in UFO history.
And if there's anything
that could convince a closed-minded public
that, uh, some kind of intelligence
that is not,
as the headmaster said, "of this world,"
then this event
should-should persuade people.
[Ralph] He was a rare individual
who had enough confidence
to tackle this very, very strange area.
And-And it remains
the colossal mystery of our time.
I mean, there is no answer
to-to these experiences.
What these UFOs are
and whether there are beings,
you know, associated with them
are questions
among the most confounding questions
of our time.
Questions like,
"What happens after we die?"
"Where did the universe come from?"
"What happened before the Big Bang?"
I mean, what was there before that?
Where did that come from?
[up-tempo intriguing music playing]
[Kudzanai] So, in Shona, we have a word
When the Church got a hold of it,
it was converted into something
that means "holy."
But its original meaning,
before it was hijacked by the Church,
means "something of great mystery."
"Something that is inexplicable
but it exists."
It's there,
because you are interacting with it.
[music continues]
Seeing an alien brought me to a place
where I did find my "Africanness."
My own African belief systems
and culture and spirituality.
[Lisil] I believe in it
because I did see it.
This is a story that we're sharing.
This is a story that we're proud of.
This is a story
that if you wanna talk about it,
talk about it.
If you don't wanna talk about it, don't.
But it's your story as well.
This is a very important story to tell,
but not so much because of
the incident itself.
It's an important human story to tell.
To simply say,
"Humans have experienced this."
That's empathy.
That's like, "I can see things
from your perspective."
You can go in different directions
after that, but that makes us human.
Some people chose to dig deeper.
Some people chose to just shut it down
and not think about it.
Some people may have found answers
that make sense to them.
Some people, it may still be
a puzzle piece that doesn't fit anywhere.
There are people who were there that day
that are like,
"Uh. That really didn't happen."
And that's okay too.
That's a That's a choice too.
[Emma] There's so much more to explore
and so much more to know
about what is around us,
and I didn't realize that I could have
an impact to the environment
in a negative way.
So having that message definitely took me
to a different understanding
of my place in the world.
It was just so eye-opening,
and it made me realize what a
a-a narrow mindset I had
and that I was unwilling
to accept the possibility
that there's something
in this material world
that I don't understand.
[rousing instrumental music playing]
[Tapfu] Most people would say
the question is like, "Are we alone?"
I don't think that's it.
I think the question is, "Who are we?"
And maybe begin to understand
that someone else could be looking
back at us, it's like
"Who do they see?"
[rousing music continues]
[music crescendos, softens]
[music continues]
[music fades out]
[mysterious music playing]
[music fades out]
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