The Doomed Cleveland Balloonfest

I love me a good ecological horror movie. But when the horrors of ecology are the fault of man? Sign me the fuck up.

This is what I got out the five minutes that is The Doomed Cleveland Balloonfest, a micro documentary by Nathan Truesdell that not only offers a small moment in Midwestern history but also a collection of things that should not have happened. The little film takes news footage of the city’s attempt to complete the biggest balloon release ever, something to get them into the Guinness Book of World Records. This was all to get the city on the map. It all failed.

Children blistered fingers, people shuttled in balloons, a city squealed with bright anticipation as over a million balloons were released as a disassembling plastic cloud into the small cityscape. The results – although grainy – are breathtaking, a techno swarm of the non-natural floating jelly beans flying into the heavens. This was in September 1986, 32 years ago. What comes to mind when thinking of such an event now? Ecological disaster. A storm of litter. A human made knife into the world.

That is and is not the case. While this manifests in unexpected ways, the horror of this event plays out as a sliding scale of losses. The largest loss I will not even begin to broach as it is the mouth dropping twist that this little doc so succinctly captures, popping the absurdist affair with two quick blinks of “Uhhhh…What the fuck were they thinking?

Suffice it to say: a balloonfest would never happen again. Not for nature, not for people, not for anyone. Watch the brilliant little documentary below.

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