top of page
  • michaeldj1950

Documentary On The Ariel School Encounter

Updated: Feb 5, 2023

by Mike Jamieson

This is a story with a genesis in the experience of a few dozen children who still relate as true events from nearly thirty years ago.  The story could be presented as representing the “childhood’s end” of our species, as it awakens us to the existence of more aspects of the context of our place in the the universe.

It is a difficult story to take in and adapt to, but this documentary shows that process taking place over a nearly three decade period in the lives of the then child-witnesses and the people around them and in particular the teachers and school officials directly associated with the Ariel Elementary School students experiencing unusual sights and encounters during an outdoor recess on September 16 1994 in Ruwa, Zimbabwe.

This story has been retold many times in a wide variety of venues since the very first hours after the event.  A BBC correspondent had been stationed in Ruwa just the year before, after many years as a correspondent working in various harrowing war zones throughout Africa.  For this documentary, producer Randall Nickerson interviewed this tough correspondent Tim Leach before his death in 2011.  (This should show how long ago Nickerson began developing the content for this finally released documentary.)

Leach was initially skeptical but also being overwhelmed in covering this story at the beginning, he reached out to a MUFON investigator and representative for Africa, Cynthia Hind, and a Harvard psychologist, John Mack, for help in fleshing out the story.  Leach, as he appeared in this later interview, is seen (excerpted from interview) throughout the documentary, as are regularly a set of other individuals.

There are excerpts of interviews of the children from right after the time of the incident and then interviews Nickerson conducted two decades later of a fair number of the witnesses now as adults. 

Those speaking as adults in this included the following describing what they saw, experienced, felt, and underwent in subsequent years from impact of the 1994 event.

Among those speaking as adults:

Lisil Field (in grade 4 at the time).

Robert Medcalf (grade 2).

Emily Trim (grade 3).

Lule Nel (grade 7).

Salma Siddick (grade 6).

Nathaniel Coxall (grade 7)

T. Shava (grade  3)

Claire Rixom (grade 4)

Natasha Chakaodza (grade 4)

Nashville Chakaodza (grade 4)

Emma Kristiansen (grade 6)

Dallyn Vico (grade 7)

The various interviewees contributing to the telling of this story alternate throughout the whole documentary with stock film from around the time of the 1994 event.  (Including BBC and Nicole Carter of SABC.)

Also, there is a thread where Emily Trim is shown revisiting Ariel 21 years after the event and in those scenes she is shown staying withthe current headmistress, Judy Bates, who was assistant headmistress back in 1994.

The segments of hearing from the BBC correspondent Tim Leach are poignant, his pained and awestruck affect communicating as much as his words where he explained this story affected him more than the horrible trauma of reporting in the midst of combat.

Gunter Hofer was an on scene investigator assisting Cynthia Hind and is one of the living witnesses contributing his observations throughout this film.  As the launch date approached for airing of this film, postings at the social media sites for this film noted his recording of signs of landing traces from the craft that the children had reported seeing.

A liberal use of stock film of Dr. John Mack interviewing the children, talking to the teachers in a group, conducting a large townhall gathering in Harare, and more at the end of the film where it was shown how some at Harvard initially tried to rein Mack in (later backing off from him), enabled a clear picture of his work gathering the impressions of the children and in assisting the adults in dealing with what the children were asserting.

Initially, most adults were very skeptical but over time they softened their attitudes, many coming to believe what was reported. Emily Trim’s parents were conventionally very religious but over time came to be supportive of their daughter, taking her in as she set out on the path of creating art amidst her feelings of loneliness and alienation.

Recent polling would suggest something similar is happening with general public attitudes regarding ufos overall over the past few years.  In March 2021 CBS News released a poll that had 51% of Americans feeling some UFOs were ET craft, 39% saying not.  This year, the conservative Gallup poll showed an 8% jump from their 2019 poll on that question (from 33% to 41%). 

Still, the type of encounter the children experienced had features which were so strange or unusual, and which stirred a strong emotional charge, that cause many of us to dismiss and/or avoid this type of report.  The beings appear to be the short greys that others worldwide have reported.  The 2 to 3 beings that people reported were described as short, wearing a skin-tight one piece black outfit.  Their eyes were black, large and almond shaped, the heads large in the cranium and narrow or pointed at the chin.  The skin was very whitish.

The unusual feature having the most impact was the prolonged eye contact one of the beings had with a number of the children, and the distinct messaging and feelings that were perceived from that unnerving contact.  This occurred at the logs that bordered the playground.  Beyond was a wild field and a grove of trees where a landed craft was seen with at least one other being there apparent to most witnesses.

The children describe the messages they perceived during this intense eye-connection with the being as involving scenes of environmental degradation due to human misuse of technology.  One girl put it as “we are bringing harm to the world”.  Lisil Field, as a young child being interviewed on camera, described all the trees going down and dying animals. The messages seem conveyed via vivid images.

The movements of the being also were a shock.  There was graceful gliding in slow motion as well as an unsettling sight of the being disappearing from one location and rapidly appearing elsewhere.

The documentary in a very last scene, injected briefly to interrupt unfolding film credits, exposes what should be our primary focus by showing the poignant scene of Dr. John Mack asking the young Lisil Field a couple of questions: 

“Would you like to see him again?” Yes, she says.“And, if you do, what would you do?”I will ask him some questions.  What is he doing on earth and what does he want from us?

The time for engaging the task of us now uncovering the answers to those questions appears to have now arrived.  May this film help spur that realization.   

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page