The Arecibo Observatory documentary, The Biggest Dream, will have its Florida premiere at UCF Celebrates the Arts on April 14 at 7 p.m. at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in the Alexis and Jim Pugh Theater.
The film has only played in select locations, and the UCF screening will give audience members a sneak preview of the movie before its worldwide release.
The event will also feature a Q&A session with the movie’s director, Andrew Hernandez Sepulveda.
Attendance is free, and registration is now open. Early registration is encouraged to ensure seat availability.
This premiere is part of UCF Celebrates the Arts, UCF’s annual festival showcasing creativity, innovation, and collaboration. Hosted by the UCF College of Arts and Humanities, the two-week event features students, faculty and alumni from the College of Arts and Humanities and creativity from around the university. This year’s festival encompasses 40 events — half of which are free — and exhibitions throughout the center.
The movie tells the story of the rise, the fall and the future of the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. Long considered an engineering marvel, the Arecibo Observatory’s 1,000-foot-wide radio telescope was one of the most powerful radio telescopes in the world. Its legacy extended beyond science, and it became pop culture icon thanks to its appearances in the movies Goldeneye and Contact.
Until the radio telescope’s collapse in 2020, the observatory was responsible for not only protecting our planet from near-Earth asteroids but also for unraveling some of the deepest mysteries of space. It also helped inform some of NASA’s most cutting-edge missions including DART and OSIRIS-REx. Scientists are still analyzing its treasure trove of backlog data.
For director Andrew Hernandez Sepulveda, the movie is personal not only because he grew up in Puerto Rico, but also because of his family’s connection to the observatory.
“On the island, schools have the tradition to take the kids in science class on a school trip to the Arecibo Observatory to learn astronomy and explore,” Hernandez Sepulveda says. “Not only that, but for me there is an even bigger sentimental family approach. My grandfather worked mixing cement in the construction of the Arecibo Observatory 57 years ago. It was very important to tell the complete story of this amazing instrument and its legacy, from the workers on the island of Puerto Rico to the scientists all around the world who did amazing discoveries on this iconic facility.”
For Arecibo Observatory’s site director, Olga Figueroa, the documentary is important because it helps conveys Arecibo Observatory’s legacy to a larger audience.
“Arecibo has always been about dreaming and dreaming big,” she says. “We will continue to do so and are hoping to see a well-established and bright STEM Education Center at Arecibo that will bring new and innovative opportunities for the local and international community. Also, we hope to see that in a near future, the scientific and research component can be integrated for the benefit of Puerto Rico and for the benefit of this and future generations to come.”
About UCF Celebrates the Arts
Partnership, one of UCF’s long-standing values, is brought front-and-center at UCF Celebrates the Arts, with many events showcasing the collaborative nature of the university. The festival features partnerships with community organizations like the Orlando Repertory Theatre and Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra and internal, cross-disciplinary initiatives that showcase the innovative results of infusing creativity into STEM disciplines and vice-versa. This partnership with UCF’s Office of Research encompasses the best of both.
To learn more about UCF Celebrates the Arts, please visit arts.ucf.edu/celebrates.