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USA: Warner Bros
Cast: Sam Neill, Kevin Harrington, Tom Long, Patrick Warburton, Genevieve Mooy, Tayler Kane, Bille Brown, Roy Billing, Andrew S Gilbert, Lenka Kripac, Matthew Moore, Eliza Szonert, John McMartin, Carl Snell, Billy Mitchell, Rosalind Hammond, Christopher-Robin Street, Luke Keltie, Naomi Wright, Ben Wright-Smith, Beverley Dunn (voice), Grant Thompson, Bernard Curry, Kerry Walker, Denise Lynne Roberts, Jeff Keogh, Jason Ritterman, Alexander Zent, Rowan Macartney, Aidan Macartney, Jarrod Factor, Oliver McGill, Marilyn O'Donnell, Jane Menelaus, John Flaus, Neil Pigot, Darren Davidson, Simon Donaldson, Frank Bennett, Randall Berger, Charles 'Bud' Tingwell, Mal Walden (voice), Rod McNeil (voice), Alister Paterson, Colette Mann, Susan Ward, Roger Crisp, Nicholas Bell
Director: Rob Sitch
USA: 104 mins
UK: 101 mins
USA Rated: PG-13 for brief strong language
UK Certificate: 12 contains one use of strong language and some mild bad language
USA Release Date: 27 April 2001
USA Release Date: 14 March 2001 (Limited Release)
UK Release Date: 11 May 2001
Directed by Rob Sitch and based on a true story, THE DISH recounts the emotions, drama and humour behind the four day Apollo XI mission in July 1969 and the extraordinary role that Australia played in televising the historical lunar landing to the world.
Inauspiciously located on a remote sheep farm in the rural town of Parkes, New South Wales, Australia, "The Dish" is a mammoth, 1000 ton radio telescope equal in size to a football field. In 1969, NASA intended to use the Australian telescope, the most powerful receiving dish in the Southern Hemisphere, as a back-up to its prime receiver in Goldstone, California. However a last-minute change in the Apollo XI flight schedule rendered the Goldstone telescopes ineffective, and the Aussie dish became NASA's only hope for conveying to the world man's first steps on the moon.
Upon his arrival at "The Dish" compound in remote Parkes, by-the-book NASA representative Al Burnett (Patrick Warburton) clashed with the eccentric Australian crew responsible for manning the telescope: recently widowed scientist Cliff Burton (Sam Neill), the diplomatic team leader; sarcastic technician Ros 'Mitch' Mitchell (Kevin Harrington), who takes Burnett's presence personally; and shy calculations expert Glenn Latham (Tony Long), who takes it upon himself to reconfigure NASA's problematic data. The staff is rounded out by overzealous guard Rudi (Tayler Kane) and his sister Janine (Eliza Szonert), who delivers snacks to the scientists in the hope that Glenn will one day ask her out.
Tension develops between Burnett and the Australian crew during the week preceding the launch. Meanwhile the citizens of Parkes excitedly prepare for the biggest event in the town's history. Parkes Mayor Bob McIntyre (Roy Billing), who is facing re-election, and his family nervously entertain Australia's Prime minister (Billie Brown) and the United States Ambassaor (John McMartin).
But technical difficulties threaten to disrupt the scientists' bid for glory when they lose contact with the Apollo XI during a power outage, hours before Apollo XI is scheduled to land on the moon. Scrambling to restore contact with the Apollo XI, "The Dish" technicians launch an exhaustive effort to relocate the spacecraft in time to broadcast images of Neil Armstrong's landmark lunar trek to the world.