Film director tells story of first female astronaut

By Cristina Olaru

The inspiring story of the first woman astronaut will be the focus of a documentary film screening and Question and Answer session with its director in Leicester next week.

Ulrike Kubatta will be giving an insight into her film She Should Have Gone to the Moon which will be screened at the Phoenix Cinema on Thursday(NOV15) at 6.30pm.

The documentary tells the story of US pilot Jerri Truhill who was trained in 1961 to become one of the first female astronauts as part of NASA’s top secret Mercury 13 programme.

Ulrike Kubatta

Director: Ulrike Kubatta

“She was someone who wouldn’t do what other women did,” explained Miss Kubatta, who is a senior lecturer in film and media studies at De Montfort University.

“There is so much out there on men exploring space, and therefore, Jerri’s story is a lot more unusual.”

Miss Kubatta met Jerri in person and admitted she ‘deliberately’ did the film because of her admiration for the NASA pioneer. The project was born from her own passion for what Jerri Truhill achieved.

“She was my heroine. When I met her, she lived up to everything I expected,” added Miss Kubatta.

The film is quite intimate and she thinks that this personal approach will resonate with people because it contains a kind of passion and interest that makes the documentary more accessible to the audience.

Jerry Truhill

Pioneer: Jerry Truhill

“I thought it will become a story less specific to the space programme and be more about a woman who goes all beyond what’s available to her.

“That woman knew what she wanted and knew how to fight for it,” said Miss Kubatta.

One of the aspects of the documentary presents the equality battle between women and men, and Miss Kubatta pointed out that Jerri used to do what most women did in the US in the 60s, being a housewife and having afternoon teas before, at one point, saying: ‘I did that but now is my time.’

Continuing on the theme of equality nowadays, Miss Kubatta said: “We need to co-exist, both sides to be committed to change.

“Students are very switched on, this generation is more engaged in participating in change.”

From her own experience, the film director encouraged all students to take risks: “Do not stay in your comfort zone, I’d rather live wide than longer.”

The screening of She Should Have Gone to the Moon will be followed by a Question and Answer session with Miss Kubatta and special guests, including Dr Suzanne Imber, Associate Professor in Space Physics at the University of Leicester, who was the winner of the 2017 BBC Two programme “Astronauts, Do You Have What It Takes”.

Watch a trailer of the documentary.

The event is presented in association with the DocHub@DMU, a new initiative for the production and study of documentary film at the Leicester Media School (De Montfort University). All tickets cost £5 and can be booked from

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