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The Space Race

Directed by:

Lisa Cortes & Diego Hurtado de Mendoza


91 minutes

A film about connectivity, community, mentorship, and the importance of trailblazers, this film explores the experiences of the first Black astronauts through decades of archive film and interviews in a reflective illumination on the burden of breaking barriers.


Friday, January 19, 2024 at 7:00 PM

Saturday, October 28, 2023 at 1:15 PM


On-Demand (WA Only, 250 views). October 30 - November 5

The Space Race Official Trailer

This film is sponsored by:



The Space Race captures the journey of space flight through the unrelenting spirit and resilience of the black community and those who would break down barriers for astronauts who would follow. This documentary uncovers the little-known stories of the first Black pilots, engineers, and scientists to become astronauts. It weaves together the stories of Black astronauts seeking to break the bonds of social injustice to reach for the stars, including Guion Bluford, Ed Dwight, and Charles Bolden. 


Addressing the racial injustice within NASA across several decades, the film follows these pioneers who fought to overcome both the obstacles encountered during their astronaut training and the challenges that stemmed from the racial prejudice and discrimination present at the time. It highlights how their perseverance challenged the definition of “the right stuff,” even when their stories were omitted from the history books.

The Space Race



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Lisa Cortes

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Diego Hurtado de Mendoza

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Lisa Cortés 

Lisa Cortés is an Emmy-winning director and producer, renowned for creating challenging, visionary stories and empowering diverse voices. Little Richard: I Am Everything (CNN Films), which she directed and produced, had its world premiere as the opening night selection in the US documentary competition at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, where it was acquired by Magnolia Films. Also premiering at Sundance was Invisible Beauty, the documentary about Black fashion industry pioneer Bethann Hardison, which she produced.

In 2022, her company, Cortés Filmworks, signed a first-look deal with Blue Ant Studios. Cortés Filmworks also inked a 2023 global development deal with the Museum of the City of New York for documentary projects in the food, social justice, and music genres.

Lisa directed and produced All In: The Fight For Democracy (Amazon Studios), tracing the violent history of the voting rights struggle, and produced the Emmy-winning HBO documentary The Apollo, which explores African-American history through the story of the legendary Apollo Theater. Lisa executive-produced the Academy Award-winning film Precious, and her film productions have received over 80 international awards and nominations. Lisa launched her early career as a music executive at the iconic Def Jam label and Rush Artist Management; she also was VP of A&R at Mercury Records and founded the Loose Cannon label.

Diego Hurtado de Mendoza

Diego Hurtado de Mendoza is known for The Space Race (2023), The Redeem Team (2022) and The People's Fighters: Teofilo Stevenson and the Legend of Cuban Boxing (2018).



Lisa Cortes

Diego Hurtado de Mendoza


Mark Monroe


Carolyn Bernstein

Keero Birla (as Keero Singh Birla)

Alex Bowen

Lisa Cortes

Diego Hurtado de Mendoza

Leland Melvin

Mark Monroe

Aly Parker

Executive Producers

Frank Marshall

Tony Rosenthal

Ryan Suffern


Jongnic Bontemps

Anna Drubich


Robert A. Martinez

Sound Department

Danny Clayton, Sound Mixer

Rusty Dunn, Sound Designer | Sound Effects Editor

Joe Earle, Re-recording Mixer

Angelina Faulkner, Dialogue Editor | Supervising Sound Editor

Justin Hennard, Sound Recordist

Pernell L. Salinas, Assistant Sound Editor

Scott Szabo, Sound Mixer

Robin Warren, Re-recording Mixer

Editorial Department

Quinn Alvarez, Colorist

LaRue Anderson, Digital Intermediate EP

Rigoberto Madrigal, Supervising Online Editor

Stefanie Schaldenbrand, Digital Intermediate Head Of Production

Inaya Graciana Yusuf, Additional Editor

Additional Music

Jacques Brautbar

David Cerquetti

Desmond Murray

Additional Crew

Tim Horsburgh, Vice President: National Geographic Documentary Films

Stephen Slater, NASA Archive Consultant

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