From Filmmaker, Photographer and National Geographic Explorer Max Lowe, Torn Turns the Lens on His Own Family as the Body of His Father, Legendary Climber Alex Lowe, Is Uncovered 17 Years After His Death
WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–On the heels of an Academy Award® nomination for the critically acclaimed film The Cave, National Geographic Documentary Films announced today a new feature documentary, Torn (wt), in partnership with Lightbox, the studio co-founded by Academy Award®- and Emmy®-winning producer Simon Chinn and Academy Award®-nominated and Emmy®-winning producer Jonathan Chinn. Chris Murphy is also producing, and the director is photographer and National Geographic Explorer Max Lowe. The film will turn the lens on Lowe’s family as the body of his father, legendary climber Alex Lowe, is uncovered 17 years after his death in an avalanche on the Himalayan peak, Mount Shishapangma.
On Oct. 5, 1999, Alex was tragically lost alongside cameraman and fellow climber David Bridges in a deadly avalanche on the slopes of the Tibetan mountain, Shishapangma. Miraculously surviving the avalanche was Alex’s best friend and climbing partner, renowned mountaineer Conrad Anker. After the tragedy, Anker and Alex’s widow, Jennifer, fell in love and married, and Anker stepped in to help raise Alex’s three sons.
Torn will deliver a profoundly intimate look at the Lowe-Anker family as Alex’s eldest son Max captures their emotionally and physically harrowing journey to Tibet’s 26,289-foot Shishapangma, where they will finally put Alex to rest. Using never-before-released archival footage of the ill-fated 1999 expedition, early footage of Alex and Anker as young climbers, personal home videos and strikingly candid interviews with the Lowe-Ankers, the film will follow Max in his quest to understand his iconic late father as he explores his relationships between his brothers, mother and adoptive father Conrad in the wake of his father’s death.
“This film goes beyond my passion as a filmmaker and chronicles my family’s intensely personal journey toward understanding my father as a man, not a myth,” said Max Lowe. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with National Geographic to tell my father’s story through the unflinchingly honest perspectives of the people closest to him.”
“Like National Geographic, exploration and storytelling are part of Max’s DNA,” said Carolyn Bernstein, EVP global scripted content & documentary films for National Geographic. “We are confident his family’s inspiring and emotionally complex story will move audiences around the world.”
“Sharing his story of love and loss through the medium of film takes vulnerability and courage,” said Murphy. “Max exploring his father’s past and reconciling with his family story could be the most challenging summit of his life.”
“This film documents a painful and emotional journey for the Lowe-Anker family, and we are honored that they have entrusted us to help them bring it to the screen,” added producers Simon Chinn and Jonathan Chinn, co-founders of Lightbox. “Their willingness to share their story with the world for the first time is sure to strike a chord with audiences.”
Torn is being directed by first-time feature filmmaker Max Lowe with Murphy as producer. Producing for Lightbox is two-time Academy Award® winner Simon Chinn (“Man on Wire,” “Searching for Sugar Man”) and Academy Award® nominee Jonathan Chinn (“Black Sheep,” “LA 92”); the editor is Michael Harte (“Three Identical Strangers”).
The announcement follows the success of National Geographic Documentary Films’ The Cave from Feras Fayyad, which is nominated for a 2020 Academy Award®. The banner previously released the Oscar, BAFTA and seven-time Emmy Award® winner Free Solo; the Sundance Audience Award-winning docs Sea of Shadows and Science Fair; Emmy®-winning films LA 92 (also produced by Lightbox) and Jane, both of which were included in the top 15 documentaries considered for an Academy Award® in 2017; and Dupont Award-winning documentary Hell on Earth.
About National Geographic Documentary Films
National Geographic Documentary Films is committed to bringing the world premium, feature documentaries that cover timely, provocative and globally relevant stories from the very best documentary filmmakers in the world. National Geographic Documentary Films is a division of National Geographic Partners, a joint venture between Disney and the National Geographic Society. Furthering knowledge and understanding of our world has been the core purpose of National Geographic for 132 years, and now we are committed to going deeper, pushing boundaries, going further for our consumers … and reaching millions of people around the world in 172 countries and 43 languages every month as we do it. NGP returns 27% percent of our proceeds to the nonprofit National Geographic Society to fund work in the areas of science, exploration, conservation and education. For more information visit natgeotv.com or nationalgeographic.com, or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.
Headquartered in London and Los Angeles, Lightbox is a multiplatform media company creating high-quality nonfiction content for an array of distribution platforms. It was founded by two-time Academy Award®-winning producer Simon Chinn (“Man on Wire,” “Searching for Sugar Man”) and Emmy®-winning producer Jonathan Chinn (“LA 92,” “American High”). Lightbox’s recent productions include “Whitney,” a major theatrical feature documentary directed by Academy Award® winner Kevin Macdonald, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival; Academy Award®-nominated “Black Sheep”; “Untouchable,” a theatrical documentary on the Weinstein scandal, which premiered at Sundance 2019 and aired on BBC2 and Hulu; high-profile Netflix hit series “Murder Mountain”; “Diagnosis,” an innovative Netflix Original eight-part documentary series produced in partnership with Scott Rudin Productions and The New York Times; feature documentary “Cajun Navy” for Discovery; and “Gypsy’s Revenge,” a feature-length documentary for Investigation Discovery. The company is currently in production on “Tina Turner” (w/t), a theatrical feature documentary that will tell the full story — for the first time — of the global icon and undisputed queen of rock ‘n’ roll, directed by Academy Award® and Emmy® winners Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin; feature documentary “Storm Over Brooklyn” for HBO Documentary Films; and the documentary series “Hip Hop Untold” for FX, together with projects for a range of U.S., U.K. and international broadcasters and platforms.