7 minutes

The amazing and awful outcome of releasing 1.5 million balloons into the sky

In 1986, the United Way of Cleveland hatched a plan to raise money and set a world record by releasing 1.5 million balloons into the sky. Publicised as an event to redeem Cleveland from bad press and pejorative labels such as ‘The Mistake on the Lake’ following economic struggles and environmental degradation, the event backfired in ways both utterly predictable and entirely unexpected. In this short documentary, the US director Nathan Truesdell uses archival footage to reconstruct the unfolding of the ill-fated ‘Balloonfest 86’, to wry – but not entirely unsympathetic – effect, while hinting at a greater point about the limits of grandiose symbolic gestures.

Director: Nathan Truesdell

Producer: J Gonçalves, Charlotte Cook

Website: Topic

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