Astonishing film of trailblazer female astronaut released

By Cristina Olaru

An extremely successful premiere of the documentary film She Should Have Gone to the Moon took place last night(THURS Nov 15) at Phoenix Cinema in Leicester.

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 Ulrike Kubatta and Jerri Truhill in the film

The director of the film, Ulrike Kubatta, opened the evening by saying thank you to those who supported her project, in particular ‘a very special thanks to the inspiring female colleagues’ from DMU.

She also introduced her special guests, Dr Suzanne Imber, a Planetary Scientist at Leicester University and winner of the 2017 BBC2 television series Astronauts: Do You Have What it Takes Sarah Russell, the Deputy City Mayor of Leicester, and Heather Savigny, Professor of Gender, Media and Politics at DMU.

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.

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 Ulrike Kubatta and Suzanne Imber

Professor Savigny said: “Why don’t we know who Jerri Truhill is and what she achieved?

“On one level this documentary and this evening is the celebration of an incredible story about a woman who wanted to go into space, but the film also raises fundamental questions about how we value women and their stories, their experience and contribution to society.”

The film opened with a four-year-old girl who had one dream, to fly. And she did, Jerri flew ‘higher and faster than anybody before her’, despite the male prejudices of 1960s US society.

Even her father said she had to be a lady, playing the piano, keeping the house nicely, marrying well and entertaining.

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 Deputy City Mayor Sarah Russell speaks during the Q&A session

But Jerri laughs in her interview with Ulrike and says: “And that just was not what I had in mind at all. You see, I was smart. I did what was expected of me first.

“I got married, I went back to college and got my degree, I had two children and then I started flying. I was free to do what I wanted to do.”

Dr Imber gave a presentation after the screening about herself and the challenges she had to pass in the TV show ‘Astronauts: Do you have what it takes?’ to demonstrate her skills as an astronaut.

She also mentioned she does research mainly on the sun and its impact on planets, particularly on Earth and Mercury.

The scientist gladly announced the mission ‘BepiColombo’, launched from French Guiana on 20th of October this year, is going to the planet Mercury and is expected to arrive on December 2025.

The Planetary Scientist was asked if the history of women in space had changed since 1961 and she said: “Totally, with the exception of the fact that if you want to be a scientist and then go to be an astronaut, then there is already a gender discrimination against you, like there are not many women scientists, but a part of that, I think things changed massively.”

In the panel session, cllr Russell said: “There are many ways and situations that have been designed originally to work correctly for men that we never think to challenge.

“We never think to say actually if we go back to the beginning and do this differently, would we create the way that it functions in a way that better suited the woman?”

Asked why she had chosen the story of Jerri Truhill for her film, Miss Kubatta said: “Because she seemed the most outspoken woman from the 13th and I know there have been films about Mercury 13 and more recent documentaries about the training but I wanted to make a much more personal film because Jerri sort of became my heroine and she still is.

“I wanted to tell a one woman story and how she fought from the beginning. Also because she was a very unconventional trailblazer girl and woman and that was important to me.”



Great Highfields Bake Off’s main judge reveals favorite cake

By Jacob Moseley

Hundreds of bakers, families, and people just looking for a slice of cake will pile into a community hall tomorrow(SAT NOV 17) in the hope of impressing their Leicester MP with homemade sweet treats.

South Leicester MP Jon Ashworth explained: “Events like this not only create a platform for people to show off their talent but bring together different communities who can engage in something they are all passionate about.”

The event at Wesley Hall, in Hartington Road, Leicester, has seen entry numbers rise from  15 last year to 20 this year.

The bakers will be hoping for a top three place with the only baking restriction being no cake taller than two tiers. The winning three will receive trophies, gift cards and goodies.

Mr Ashworth said: “The Highfields Bake off is organised by Wycliffe ward councillors and my office and I hope, by promoting such events, I encourage people to organise similar events to unite people.”

Another important person involved in organising the event, business owner Hajra Hafejee, has been creating traditional meal plans and “adaptations of recipes from all over the place” for years which she shares through her online, Instagram and Facebook blogging platforms (Hajra’s Kitchen).

Hajra, as an active community worker, explained “The main reason for the event is to enjoy the community and also to showcase the talent who may just bake as a hobby. Expectations are for people to be more confident within the community.”

This is only the second year of the Bake Off and Mr Ashworth added: “Last year was very successful.”

Last year, the event raised more than £100 for charity as the participants have the option of selling slices of cake after the competition.

Every entrant will receive a medal for their best efforts but Mr Ashworth admitted that his favorite cake is the classic Victoria Sponge – perhaps a tip for the 20 competitors to think about.

Award-winning journalists talk to DMU students

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Dr James Russell Introduces the two guest speakers from the world of television

by Cristina Olaru

Two of the most notable commissioners in UK broadcasting attended a Leicester Media School employability conference at De Montfort University.

Head of School Dr James Russell introduced Louisa Campton, the new commissioning editor of News and Current Affairs at Channel 4, and Tony Parker, head of Television Development for BBC England.

Both journalists talked about their experiences and their approach to commissioning, followed by a Question and Answer session. Dr Richard Danbury, who leads the DMU Investigative Journalism MA, and Senior Lecturer Pervez Khan asked questions, together with the audience.

Dr Danbury asked both journalists how the commission process works. Ms Campton said: “In order to get a successful commission you really need to work hard and stand out. If you are pitching to my department, which is news and current affairs, the most important thing to have is an element in your pitch of news-making, news-breaking, investigative revelation.”

The journalists detailed some of the biggest mistakes that people make when pitching ideas.

Mr Parker said: “Do your research before pressing send. Be brief, don’t send long e-mails and don’t send long pitch documents. These people are busy, it’s a busy market. The first thing should be a tease.”

Ms Campton said they are looking for ‘relevant’ stories for the audience, stories that produce a reaction in people and reach ‘humanity’.

She said: “We want programmes that get people talking, stories that make them feel angry, sad, happy even occasionally, but feel something.”

The speakers advised DMU students that the media industry was in a period of growth and development, and in terms of employability there was nothing to worry about. DMU students should be passionate, creative, be themselves and show interest in the job they are applying for.