Official Denial —
the source of a false memory?

Did Jim Penniston's story of time travellers in Rendlesham Forest come from a science fiction film?

Above:  Not Jim Penniston, but an actor with a similar story in the film Official Denial (1993).

‘They’re us. From the future.’

In 1994 September Jim Penniston was hypnotized and asked to recall what happened to him in Rendlesham forest. He told a story about receiving telepathic communication from a landed craft in the forest. According to Penniston’s account, the craft’s occupants had come from Earth’s future to gather genetic material to help them survive. ‘They are time travellers,’ he said. ‘They are us.’

A made-for-TV movie called Official Denial was first broadcast on the Sci Fi channel in November 1993 and was released on video in May 1994, only a few months before Penniston’s hypnosis. In this film, an alien craft is shot down by the USAF and lands in a forest. A contactee (above) communicates telepathically with a creature from the craft who tells him they have come ‘to get genetic material to help them reproduce because their race is dying out.’ And where are they from? ‘They’re not aliens. They’re us. From the future – our future.’ Click on the image above to see a clip from the movie.

The similarities between the film and Penniston’s story are striking. Of course, we have no evidence that Penniston actually saw this film, so it could simply be coincidence. But this would not be the first time that a supposed UFO contactee under hypnosis has told a story from false memory based on a TV show – the aliens supposedly encountered by Betty and Barney Hill in their famous ‘interrupted journey’ seem to have come from an episode of The Outer Limits. Thanks to Stephan Könen for pointing out the existence of this film and Adrian Frearson for help with research.

Content last revised: 2021 March

© Ian Ridpath. All rights reserved