There’s one UFO incident that everyone should know well—and you might be surprised to know that it’s not Roswell. We’re talking about a gigantic craft hovering over a major city for hours, witnessed by 30,000 people, a mystery still unsolved years later—and now the subject of an exciting new film from director Keith Arem, The Phoenix Incident.
The Phoenix Lights Appear
Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix registered nothing unusual on radar. But thousands of people could see what the radar could not: a gigantic, miles-wide V-shaped craft was moving silently and slowly over their city.
It was the evening of March 13, 1997. At about 8:30 PM, people in Phoenix looked up to see something huge and unexpected floating over the city. The craft had meandered in utter silence over Arizona, passing over the cities of Prescott and Dewey before making its way to Phoenix.
Witnesses said that the craft was unmistakably solid—it blocked out the stars as it passed overhead. Those witnesses included Arizona governor Fife Symington (yes, his real name) as well as military personnel, police officers, and other government officials.
Meet Keith Arem
Keith Arem is an Arizona native, and he had been in Tucson just days before the Phoenix Incident. A video game industry veteran who has worked on popular titles like the Call of Duty series as well as Titanfall and Ghost Recon, Arem was well aware of what had happened in Phoenix in March of 1997. “Many of our friends in Arizona witnessed the event, and were incredibly inspired by the sighting,” he told us. “Growing up in Arizona, you see a lot of military and unidentified craft in the air, but this was clearly something unique.”
Working on war-themed video games like Call of Duty meant working directly with military consultants. Some of these consultants, having discovered that Keith was from Arizona, spoke candidly with him about the Phoenix Lights. “They believed F-15Cs [jet aircraft] were scrambled to intercept the lights, and the military was involved in some sort of exchange over the Estrella Mountains. I was fascinated by the possibility of a military engagement with extraterrestrial craft.” If Keith hadn’t been inspired to make a film about the incident previously, he definitely was now.
Why It’s a “Docu-Thriller”
There are movies that involve the Phoenix incident, but they’re all documentaries, and though some of them are admired among UFO enthusiasts, they are not likely to get much attention from the general public. To do that, you need to tell it as a real story—how the lights and the craft appeared and floated silently over Arizona, stunning thousands. Dig deeper and you’ll find what may have happened as the military attempted to deal with the encounter. Look further still and you’ll learn how four men vanished mysteriously on the same night as the Phoenix Lights—and in the same area. Their strange disappearance is still unsolved, and is quite possibly connected with the UFO incident. All of this makes a fascinating story, and it’s sometimes difficult to keep in mind that it isn’t actually fiction; we’re talking about real events that happened in recent memory.
Arem’s The Phoenix Incident ties all of this into what he calls a “docu-thriller”. People who aren’t especially interested in UFO documentaries (the poor souls) will certainly enjoy the compelling yarn, and they may be surprised to learn how much of the story is based on actual incidents. “Our goal was to inspire the audience to experience a fictional encounter,” Keith told us, “and begin researching the actual facts surrounding the case. We’ve also continued to consult with UFO experts and researchers (Nick Pope, Alejandro Rojas, Stanton Friedman, Lee Speigel, among many others) to promote disclosure within our government.”
What do we think? We’re talking about what may be the most important UFO incident in history. How often do 30,000 people end up as eyewitnesses to something completely unexplained, even 20 years after the event? The Phoenix Lights incident deserves to be at least as well known as Roswell—probably even more so. The Phoenix Incident promises not just to entertain but to educate; the world is not mundane, and high strangeness is commonplace—if you’re actually open to it.
How You Can See The Phoenix Incident
We’ll be covering more about the actual film (as well as its supplemental multimedia content) in another post, but we wanted to let you know how you can see this film. The Phoenix Incident is screening at film festivals in the United States; the schedule is available online. On March 10, 2016, the film will be streamed to Cinemark, AMC, and Regal theaters who are part of Fathom Events (the company known for showing live events like opera and symphony performances), and you can buy tickets for that event now. Are you in the UK? You can buy the DVD now on Amazon UK, or rent and stream it for £0.99, own it permanently for £5.99.
By the way, you may be wondering: what does Area51.org get out of this? Nothing. Really. Just so you know, we have no formal relationship with Keith Arem or his production company, and we make no money from any aspect of this film. We’re just fans of the Phoenix Lights incident—and of The Phoenix Incident. We hope you’ll be, too.
Still here? OK, here’s a bonus fact for you. It’s natural to wonder whether Keith Arem, a video games industry vet, might want to make a video game version based on the incident. We wondered that, too—so we asked. “Absolutely,” he told us. “I would definitely love to develop a Phoenix Incident game. So many members of our cast and crew already came from the game industry, and I think we would all be excited to create a game based on Phoenix. We have so many characters, historical data, military information, and conspiracy theories, that it would be a great world to explore as a game.”