A Million Miles Away provides a great opportunity for all to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-Oct. 15). The two-hour flick, streaming on Prime Video, tells the story of NASA flight engineer José Hernández (Michael Pena), the first migrant worker to go to space. It’s based on Hernández’s memoir, “Reaching for the Stars: The Inspiring Story of a Migrant Farmworker Turned Astronaut.” A Million Miles Away is not so much a “space movie” as a movie about what it takes to get to space. A personal story about perseverance, culture, family, sacrifice, and the impact that one caring teacher can have on a young person’s life trajectory.

The film follows Jose and his family across the decades (1960s to early 2000s), from their rural village in Mexico to the fields of the San Joaquin Valley in California; from his engineering work at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (where being mistaken for a janitor can get you the keys to the kingdom) to his eventual acceptance to NASA’s astronaut training program after 11 rejections; and finally, to his dream job as flight engineer on a shuttle mission to the International Space Station. The story has a bit of an October Sky vibe (if you’ve never seen that one- I recommend you seek it out).

I was able to catch an advance screening of A Million Miles Away on the big screen and it was preceded by a message from Pena (recorded before the SAG-AFTRA strike) as well as a greeting from an astronaut aboard the International Space Station. Not a bad way to introduce a movie and prime the audience for an uplifting experience. The feel-good momentum carries through the end credits, which include real footage of the real José – in space, and archival photos of José and his family. I love that stuff. 🙂

A Million Miles Away is available now on Prime Video.

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