A division of Universal Pictures will distribute Sherpa, Jen Peedom’s feature documentary which chronicles how Sherpas united in grief and anger to reclaim Mount Everest after an avalanche killed 16 of their members.
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment Content Group will release the film worldwide, excluding Australia and New Zealand.
The doc had its world premiere in official competition at the Sydney Film Festival at a full house at the State Theatre on Sunday, sparking a chorus of admiration on social media.
Fox International Channels MD Jacqui Feeney posted on Facebook, “Well done Jen – film was magnificent. Great story well told.”
Producer Rosemary Blight: "Sherpa is a wonderful film, a must see, courageous film making."
Abigail Sheppard: "Incredible film: at once tragic and inspiring. And beautifully made."
James Bradley: “Congrats Jen, it’s a very powerful and moving film – raises very deep questions about the Everest industry.”
Norbu Tenzing Norgay, vice president of the American Himalayan Foundation, who appears in the film, attended the screening. He’s the son of Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, who accompanied New Zealander Edmund Hillary when they scaled the summit in 1953.
As IF reported, a US major pre-bought the film but its identity was not revealed until the doc premiered, listing Universal in the credits.
Bridget Ikin and John Maynard’s Felix Media co-produced with John Smithson of London-based Arrow Media, who produced Touching the Void and 127 Hours.
The original intention was to follow a 2014 Everest expedition entirely from the Sherpas' point of view after an ugly confrontation high up the mountain between Western climbers and a group of angry Sherpas.
The plan was to film Sherpa leader Phurba Tashi’s Phurba’s world record-breaking attempt to summit Everest for the 22nd time
Peedom and her crew were at the base camp when the avalanche struck at 6.45am on April 18, so the focus turned to the drastic reappraisal of the Sherpas role and their efforts to reclaim the mountain they call Chomolungma in the face of fierce opposition.
Maynard’s Footprint Films plans to launch the film in cinemas in February.