“For most of history, man has had to fight nature to survive; in this century, he is beginning to realise that, in order to survive, he must protect it.” – Jacques Cousteau
HONG KONG, MAY 9, 2019 – On the heels of announcing Rebuilding Paradise from Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard and The Untitled Thai Cave Rescue Project (*working title) from Academy Award-winning director Kevin Macdonald, and following the record-breaking box office success of Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin’s Free Solo, winner of the Academy Award and the BAFTA for Best Documentary Feature, National Geographic Documentary Films reveals its next documentary project: Cousteau (*working title).
Two-time Academy Award-nominated and two-time Emmy-winning director Liz Garbus (“The Farm, Angola USA,” “What Happened, Miss Simone?”) will direct and produce the feature biopic about the world’s most famous ocean explorer, Jacques Cousteau, with Academy Award winner Dan Cogan (“Icarus”) as producer. Academy Award winner Evan Hayes (Free Solo) will also produce under his ACE Content banner.
Cousteau was an inventor, explorer, environmentalist and filmmaker who revolutionized our understanding of the natural world, giving mankind the resources to explore the ocean with the Aqua Lung, the first open-circuit, self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (scuba). An avid conservationist, he also fervently called attention to the consequences of ocean pollution and was a long-time collaborator with the National Geographic Society. He later founded the Cousteau Society, an American nonprofit that produced movies and television series broadcast worldwide. In these, Cousteau took audiences with him on dozens of expeditions, where he guided us below sea level and taught us where to look, how to see and why we must preserve. In 1973, he gave to the Cousteau Society the worldwide, perpetual and exclusive rights to represent his name, likeness and work. The Cousteau Society carries on his missions today all over the planet.
Featuring never-before-seen 4K footage from the Cousteau Society’s archives, Cousteau (wt) will provide audiences a “deep dive” into the renowned explorer’s remarkable life, revealing the man behind some of the world’s most significant contributions to marine conservation. The documentary will begin production this spring and marks the beginning of a first-look deal between National Geographic and the Cousteau Society.
“Jacques Cousteau was a conservation pioneer whose advocacy to protect our oceans dovetails perfectly with National Geographic’s core values,” said Carolyn Bernstein, EVP of scripted content and documentary films for National Geographic. “We are honored that the Cousteau Society has entrusted us with this treasure trove of personal footage. Together with Liz Garbus, Dan Cogan and Evan Hayes, we hope to create a fitting tribute to Cousteau’s legacy that will celebrate his life’s work and unparalleled contributions to oceanography.”
“As a little girl, I watched Jacques Cousteau in wonder and amazement every Sunday night,” said Garbus. “He brought cameras into a strange, wild and beautiful world few had ever seen, and nobody else had ever filmed before. He inspired me to dream and imagine my own unseen worlds. I want my children’s generation to get to know this transcendent figure, to dream their own dreams and to be inspired to love and preserve the natural world just as he was.”
“We are excited to work with National Geographic, Liz Garbus and this amazing film team,” said Francine Cousteau, president of the Cousteau Society. “Our goal is to help people understand and appreciate the fragility of life on our water planet. This film will not only honor Jacques’ legacy, but also further our message of conservation.”
National Geographic Documentary Films has achieved remarkable success in a very short amount of time. Most recently, the critically acclaimed film Free Solo won both the Academy Award and the BAFTA for Best Documentary Feature — in addition to Cinema Audio Society, Motion Picture Sound Editors, Critics’ Choice and Cinema Eye wins. In 2017, two films released under the Documentary Films banner, Jane and LA 92, made the Oscar shortlist for Best Documentary Feature, and both won Emmys: LA 92 for Special Merit and Jane for Best Director and Best Cinematography.