The First Ever Feature Film Shot Entirely in Space is Russian Made

The trailer for the first feature film shot entirely in space aboard the International Space Station (ISS) has been released by Russia.

It means disappointment for Tom Cruise who planned to shoot a movie with director Doug Liman aboard the ISS in collaboration with Elon Musk’s SpaceX and NASA.

The Russian filmmakers released the trailer for The Challenge which outlines the movie’s plot: A surgeon, Zhenya, played by Russian actress Yulia Peresild, has to perform heart surgery on a sick cosmonaut in space because he is unable to return to Earth for treatment. The patient is portrayed by real-life cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy.

In the movie, Peresild’s character Zhenya, a cardiac surgeon, has to blast off from Earth to perform the complex surgery in zero gravity. She also has to fight to be taken seriously by the rest of the male crew.

The Challenge was filmed over a course of 12 days in October 2021, just a few months before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The movie’s star, Peresild, was selected after an open casting call in November 2020. To land the role, Peresild had to not only provide an audition tape but also undergo medical, psychological, and physical tests to ensure she could cope with the demands of space travel.

Yulia Peresild
Yulia Peresild as cardiac surgeon Zhenya. The actress had to be passed fit for the demands of space travel.

As noted by CNN, the film was produced by the Yellow, Black and White Studio and Channel One Russia with help from Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos. Channel One Russia is a state-controlled TV station.

“The movie is aimed to popularize Russia’s space activities, as well as glorify (the) cosmonaut profession,” says a statement announcing the project.

While Tom Cruise may be sad that he isn’t starring in space’s first feature film, he did narrate a 2002 IMAX documentary filmed on the ISS back in 2002. There was also an eight-minute science fiction picture by entrepreneur and space tourist Richard Garriott in 2012.

And it’s not the first time that Russia has filmed in space, in 1984 a Soviet film called Return from Orbit was partly shot onboard the Salyut 7 space station.

The Challenge will be released on April 12.