Review: ‘Close Encounters of the Fifth Kind: Contact Has Begun,’ starring Steven Greer, Daniel Sheehan, Russell Targ, Adam Michael Curry, Joe Martino, Jan Harzan and Jim Martin

April 7, 2020

by Carla Hay

Dr. Steven Greer in “Close Encounters of the Fifth Kind: Contact Has Begun” (Photo courtesy of 1091 Media)

“Close Encounters of the Fifth Kind: Contact Has Begun”

Directed by Michael Mazzola

Culture Representation: This documentary about contact between extraterrestrials and humans on Earth interviews an all-white group of Americans from scientific, legal and creative professions who believe that more humans should make benevolent contact with beings from outer space.

Culture Clash: The people interviewed in the documentary consider themselves to be “free thinkers” and believe that there are vast government conspiracies to make people think that life forms outside of Earth are a threat to human existence.

Culture Audience: “Close Encounters of the Fifth Kind: Contact Has Begun” will appeal mostly to people who believe in UFOs, extraterrestrials and government conspiracy theories.

Dr. Steven Greer in “Close Encounters of the Fifth Kind: Contact Has Begun” (Photo courtesy of 1091 Media)

Do you believe that extraterrestrials from outer space have made contact with humans and vice versa? The answer to that question will largely determine your opinion of “Close Encounters of the Fifth Kind: Contact Has Begun,” a documentary that is really a manifesto for Dr. Steven Greer (described in press materials as “the global authority on extraterrestrials”) and like-minded believers to tell people how they should contact extraterrestrials.

The movie can be considered a sequel to the 2017 documentary “Unacknowledged: An Exposé of the World’s Greatest Secret” (also starring Greer and directed by Michael Mazzola), which had Greer doing an exposé of government documents pertaining to unidentified flying objects (UFOs) and extraterrestrials (ETs). In “Close Encounters of the Fifth Kind: Contact Has Begun,” Greer claims that the government was so afraid of the information in “Unacknowledged” that in reaction to the movie, the government published “millions” of UFO documents on the Internet that confirmed a lot of what the movie claimed.

In “Close Encounters of the Fifth Kind: Contact Has Begun,” Greer says he wants a widespread movement for people on Earth to approach extraterrestrial contact with a peaceful, not hostile, attitude. Many of the people in the movie also go into great detail about how the universe is connected. The problem is that the movie is unabashedly one-sided (no one with opposing viewpoints is interviewed) and at times comes across as an infomercial for Greer’s UFO-sighting events.

Greer is a former medical doctor who founded the Center for the Studies of Extraterrestrial Intelligence (CSETI). He gets the vast majority of screen time in the movie, which shows him talking in a futuristic-looking room that has no furniture except for the fold-out chair where Greer sits to share his beliefs. At the end of the movie, most viewers will either think he’s a visionary or a complete nutjob. He claims, among other things, that he’s made contact with ETs several times in his life and that deep transcendental meditation, especially in groups, is the best way to make contact with ETs.

Greer also claims that through his work before and during CSETI, he has gotten mind-blowing information from an untold number of former government officials and whistleblowers. According to Greer, the U.S. government is actively working to brainwash the public into believing that if outer-space aliens really do exist, the U.S. military will be prepared to protect the United States, if not the world. He and other people interviewed in the documentary (including constitutional attorney Daniel Sheehan) say that there are secret departments in the CIA, the FBI and the U.S. military—as well as secret departments in many other countries’ governments—that have been covering up shocking information about what they know about UFOs and ETs. Greer is of the firm belief that ETs are the peaceful ones, and people on Earth are more likely to do the attacking.

While you wrap you head around all of these claims, here are the five kinds of “close encounters” that people on Earth can have with ETs, as explained in the documentary:

  • Close encounters of the first kind are visual sightings of UFOs.
  • Close encounters of the second kind are physical traces of ETs or UFOs, such as impressions on the ground.
  • Close encounters of the third kind are when occupants or pilots of ET spacecraft are witnessed.
  • Close encounters of the fourth kind are when a human is brought on board an ET spacecraft.
  • Close encounters of the fifth kind are pro-active communications with ETs.

“Close Encounters of the Fifth Kind: Contact Has Begun” also includes a lot of mostly grainy video footage that’s described as UFO sightings. The footage is labeled as being filmed in various places around the world, but mostly in the United States, with a great deal in Florida and California. And, not surprisingly, most of the footage is from Greer’s CE5 contact events. The same goes for the photos that the documentary presents as “ET light sources” and “ET silhouettes” that have been captured on camera during CE5 contact events and elsewhere. However, skeptics would say that footage and photos like these can easily be faked.

The documentary is divided into three chapters. “Chapter 1: Blood & Treasure” talks about how government agencies, in cooperation with mainstream media, are shaping an untrue narrative that outer-space life forms are dangerous and we need to be ready for any attack. This narrative is reinforced in movies that portray outer-space aliens as creatures whose intentions are to kills humans and take over the world. Greer believes that humans, not ETs, are really the biggest threat to themselves. He also says that ETs are dismayed at how humans are destroying the Earth’s environment, and if ETs really wanted to attack Earth, they would have done it already. Greer claims that the U.S. government has already secretly shot down UFOs and that the dead bodies of ETs are in secret areas that are monitored by the government.

“Chapter 2: The Crossing Point of Light” goes into a lengthy discussion about how ETs communicate not through the speed of light but through the speed of thought. The documentary has some charts and graphics about how physics and emotional energy play a role in contacting ETs. It’s in this chapter that the film veers into advocating for transcendental meditation, especially in group sessions. There are testimonials from some of Greer’s CE5 event participants (mostly aging hippie types), and they’re very rapturous in describing these events as life-changing experiences. Much of what they describe sounds a lot like people who’ve taken psychedelics, but it’s not mentioned in the documentary if they take any mind-bending drugs when they go on these UFO-and-ET-sighting excursions.

“Chapter 3: A New World” covers what would happen if more humans made peaceful contact with ETs, which Greer says is a goal that more people in the world should have. Several of the people in the documentary believe that ETs who’ve been to Earth are much more advanced than humans and have technology that’s far beyond present-day human concepts. Greer says it would be like if modern-day people went back in time to the 1700s and tried to explain smartphone technology to people in that era. This chapter in the movie also puts forth the belief that human-ET relations could be beneficial to our health. A CE5 participant named Ed Moen says that an ET encounter that he had at one of the events resulted in him no longer needing hearing aids and having his hearing perfectly restored.

Greer comments that one of the reasons why he’s doing the documentary is for “free thinkers” to make contact with ETs, because the government can’t be trusted to tell the public the whole truth of what’s known about ETs. He says in the documentary, “No one has asked the question, ‘How do we develop a relationship with the occupants of UFOs?’ Who’s on board? Why are they here?” And as far as Greer and like-minded believers are concerned, a multidisciplinary company such as To the Stars…Academy of Arts & Sciences (co-founded by former Blink-182 guitarist Tom DeLonge), which investigates UFO sightings, is just a front to promote untrustworthy government propaganda.

Greer also says that people and ETs have to find a commonality “outside of the purview” of the government. Greer claims that information he’s uncovered is “subversive and dangerous.” He also says that he’s been threatened many times by government officials (he doesn’t name names), but that he’s not afraid of being assassinated, because a near-death experience that he had when he was young made him no longer fear death. However, Greer does break down and cry when he talks about “whistleblowers” he’s worked with who have committed suicide or have been “assassinated” because of what they know. He doesn’t name names, but he says he has “survivor’s guilt.”

Greer also compares the group of people who’ve bypassed national security to try to make contact with ETs as similar to the people involved in the civil-rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. He makes this comparison because he says the civil-rights movement didn’t come from the top down, but it started with everyday people on a grass-roots level. Greer’s comparison of people fighting against damaging racial discrimination and people fighting for their belief to make contact with ETs might be considered offensive, considering that most of the people looking to make contact with ETs don’t seem to be very oppressed in their daily lives.

Based on the people interviewed for documentaries like this and the video footage shown of Greer’s CE5 events, the vast majority of the people involved are white, middle-class or upper-class, and over the age of 35. In other words, not exactly a diverse group. And they’ve probably never experienced the kind of civil-rights discrimination where they could be arrested for sitting in the front of a bus or going into a certain area, just because they’re a certain race. (Every person interviewed in this documentary is white and mostly male, although there’s a half-hearted attempt at diversity at the end of the movie, which has a brief archival video montage of people around the world who claim to believe in ETs.) And it begs the question: Who is Greer’s real target audience to be his leading allies in this movement, if the people who end up going to his events are people who have the time and money to do that kind of thing?

And although Greer believes that the “peace and love” approach is the best way to live life and make contact with ETs, the filmmakers made the odd choice to have actor Jeremy Piven (whose career has been torpedoed by numerous sexual-misconduct allegations) as the documentary’s voiceover narrator. Piven has denied the allegations, but he had a reputation for being “difficult” long before the allegations surfaced. He’s usually cast as a jerk/hothead, and in real life, he isn’t known for being a harmonious figure in the entertainment industry.

It seems incongruous to have someone with this volatile reputation narrate a movie whose message is supposed to be about human tranquility and putting peaceful energy into the universe. But since Piven doesn’t appear on camera, his involvement in the movie isn’t too much of a distraction. He narrates the film with a kind of slightly forceful tone that conspiracy theorists usually have, so maybe that’s why the filmmakers wanted him to be the narrator.

The movie’s ideas aren’t really supposed to be politically partisan, but the documentary shows some political bias that metaphorically comes from out of left field. The documentary states that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris (Democratic candidates who ran for U.S. President in the 2020 election) are mainstream political hacks who would toe the government line of covering up the truth about ETs. The documentary then says that Bernie Sanders (another Democratic candidate, who’s more left-leaning than Biden and Harris) would be more open-minded, but he would be “besieged” by corrupt government entities to take part in the cover-ups too. It’s not a blatant endorsement of Sanders, but it comes pretty close, since he’s singled out in the documentary as a possible political ally to the movement that Greer wants to have.

There’s also some religious bias in the documentary, since Greer says he’s reached out to the Vatican to try and enlist the Catholic Church’s help in spreading his message. Greer comments in the documentary, “We have to come forward with a positive set of programs and a positive vision for this.” Some of the people interviewed in the documentary who echo Greer’s overall thoughts on human-ET relations include attorney Sheehan, Mufon executive director Jan Harzan, physicist Dr. Russell Targ, Collective Evolution founder Joe Martino, inventor/entrepreneur Adam Michael Curry, screenwriter Dave Marconi and CE5 producer Jim Martin, who is also one of the producers of this documentary.

“Close Encounters of the Fifth Kind: Contact Has Begun” presents some fascinating stories and scientific theories about life that exists beyond Earth. However, the movie undermines a lot of the credibility that it wishes to have by interviewing only fervent believers of Greer’s message, instead of being a true investigative documentary that tries to get varied perspectives, even from skeptics, so that viewers can make up their own minds.

When filmmakers present only one side of an argument in a documentary, it makes them look like they’re afraid to include other ways of thinking. And that exclusion of other viewpoints is a type of propaganda pushing that this documentary claims to be against. However, there’s one thing that the documentary didn’t forget to include, which is sneaked in during the last five minutes of this two-hour movie—promotion of Greer’s CE5 app, so people can help fund his agenda.

1091 Media released “Close Encounters of the Fifth Kind: Contact Has Begun” on digital on April 7, 2020. The movie’s VOD release is on April 24, 2020.

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