Nightstream Film Festival (NFF)Cosmic Dawn is a 2021 Nighstream Film Festival feature that studies the complex feeling of connection — from mother to daughter, from drug-use to emotional connectivity, and from humans to “occupants of interplanetary crafts”. While its elements of psychedelia and extraterrestrials lend themselves to science fiction, Cosmic Dawn is just as much a psychological thriller as it is a sci-fi, filling many scenes with surreal happenings of an alien-centric cult.

A young girl, named Aurora, has her childhood cut short when her mother is abducted right before her eyes one fateful evening of stargazing. Years later, Aurora floats through life, and one day finds herself drawn to a bookstore where a kind worker shares a mysterious book — Cosmic Dawn — that holds the teachings of a woman named Elyse. She follows the kind woman to a retreat run by Elyse, where she learns that her childhood experience was not unique, and others who have also encountered the extraterrestrial beings have since formed a commune where they wait for the aliens’ return. Whereat first the teachings and camaraderie were appealing, the shiny outer layer of her newfound family begins to crack, revealing seemingly sinister practices.

Cosmic Dawn is by far one of, if not my favorite films out of the 2021 Nightstream Film Festival. Without being too technical or scientific, such as something like Interstellar or Pi, Cosmic Dawn explores space and time travel while being wholly immersed in a woman’s full-circle journey of her reckoning with a traumatic childhood event. Writer/director Jefferson Moneo begs people to open their minds and let themselves go, drawing audiences into a world of mystique that seems attractive at first but grows ever more menacing as the film progresses. Moneo has his protagonist go through a so-called ‘Aurora in wonderland’, having her led down a rabbit hole by an intriguing and seemingly kindred spirit who leaves her in a world filled with cult leaders that have the sinister smile of a Cheshire cat.

My only gripe about Cosmic Dawn is perhaps its coherency. It is far from impossible to follow, however, Cosmic Dawn is told in non-chronological order, with the plot drifting back and forth between present-day and four years ago prior. I use the word drift, specifically, because the transitions between yesteryear and today were synced very well, with one action or one spoken line of dialogue bleeding into the next scene of a different time period. Since these scenes were only separated by wipe cuts it is required to not look away from Cosmic Dawn at any moment, lest you miss a transition. At first, the back and forth rhythm of the movie was had to get into, however as the story became more enthralling, I was held rapt in attention and the movie progressively became much easier to follow.

Cosmic Dawn was an adventure, one that uses beautiful cinematography and special effects to create an otherworldly place on earth. Furthermore, the musical score was great, with an original song that was quite catchy during one impromptu, unexpected, but still surprisingly well-placed dance break in the movie, and the bygone sound effects of old Hollywood’s B-grade alien movies were put to great use in this very modern-day sci-fi. A perfect blend of science fiction and psychological thriller, Cosmic Dawn was one of my favorites out of Nightstream Film Festival with its unexpected ending, excellent story crafting, and catchy soundtrack.

Cosmic Dawn reviewed as part of our Nightstream Film Festival (NFF) coverage.


7.75 out of 10


Cosmic Dawn
RATING: NR No Trailer Available
Runtime: 1 Hr. 33 Mins.
Directed By:
Written By: Jefferson Moneo


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About the Author

Adrienne Reese is a fan of movies - the good, the bad, and the ugly - and came to the horror genre by way of getting over her fear of... everything. Adrienne also writes for the Frida Cinema, and in addition to film enjoys cooking, Minesweeper, and binge-watching Game of Thrones.
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