Apollo 11 documentary playing at Auckland's Civic Theatre for moon landing's 50th anniversary

It may be hard to believe, but it's now been 50 years since humans first set foot on the moon.

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon's surface on July 20, 1969, and on July 20, 2019, the anniversary is being marked with a special cinematic experience in Auckland.

Apollo 11, a moon landing documentary described as "the most perfect movie that will ever be made about its subject", is being screened at the mighty Civic Theatre.

Celebrated New Zealand documentary filmmaker David Farrier has seen Apollo 11 and says it's an "amazing watch".

"It's 90 minutes just showing the mission, from beginning to end, with no talking heads to interrupt the reality of it," Farrier tells Newshub.

"It really hammers home just how much potential humans have if they put their minds to a collective goal, instead of just fighting and arguing."

Having earned acclaim himself with Dark Tourist and Tickled, Farrier was particularly impressed with the craft exhibited by Apollo 11 director and editor Todd Douglas Miller.

"A lot of what we've seen before on the moon landing has been short, clipped TV documentaries that don't do it justice," says Farrier.

"The editing and score is very modern in Apollo 11. That, together with the images being restored so well they look like they were shot yesterday, mean it's finally a real filmmaker's film that's as epic as the subject matter itself."

Buzz Aldrin on the moon in 1969.
Buzz Aldrin on the moon in 1969. Photo credit: Getty

It's difficult to overstate just what an achievement the moon landing was and it's great to have this feature in one of New Zealand's best cinemas on its 50th anniversary.

Farrier says it's exactly the sort of film people need to watch in 2019.

"When the world gets chaotic, people want to be reminded of how we're capable of much greater things. So we turn to different mediums to give us peace and escapism, and documentaries are a special form of that," says Farrier.

"Free Solo was a film about the astonishing things one person can be capable of, while Apollo 11 is about the astonishing things America is capable of as a nation, when it's not going so insane."

Apollo 11 is playing in Auckland as part of the 2019 New Zealand International Film Festival and after its July 20 showing in Auckland will move to other centres around Aotearoa.

More information is available on the festival's website.