National Geographic Documentary Films has announced new film, Lost in the Amazon (wt), directed by Oscar winning directing-producing team E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin (“Free Solo,” “The Rescue”), and Emmy and BAFTA-winning filmmaker Juan Camilo Cruz (“In Her Hands,” “Messi’s World Cup”).

Simon Chinn and Jonathan Chinn of Lightbox will produce alongside Guillermo Galdos of Pacha Films and Mark Grieco, along with Vasarhelyi and Chin.

The documentary will tell the true story of the struggle for survival of four Indigenous children in the guerilla-held jungles of Colombia and the daring national effort to rescue them. The film will exclusively reveal firsthand accounts from the children detailing their story of survival. Currently in production, the feature documentary will be available exclusively on National Geographic and Disney+/Hulu. A release date has not been set.

With exclusive, access to the four Indigenous children, Lesly and Soleiny Jacobombaire Mucutuy and Tien and Cristin Ranoque Mucutuy, the film will share the story of how after a terrifying plane crash and the tragic death of their mother, they survived for 40 days in the deep Amazonian rainforest using their Indigenous knowledge of the jungle. Through firsthand accounts, the documentary charts the journey of the siblings, aged from 11 months to 13 years, as they struggle against the elements, unaware of an unprecedented search and rescue collaboration between Indigenous groups and the military to save them. The film will also feature the stories of the Indigenous and military teams who joined forces to rescue the children, giving comprehensive access to every major participant to present the definitive record of the story. The parties involved have also collaborated on a trust to benefit the children.

“Chai and Jimmy’s virtuosic approach to telling stories about people who push the limits of human potential — Alex Honnold in ‘Free Solo,’ the cave divers in ‘The Rescue’ — will be on full display in Lost in the Amazon,” said Carolyn Bernstein, executive vice president of Documentary Films for National Geographic. “We are delighted that talented Colombian filmmaker Juan Camilo Cruz will be partnering with them along with our friends at Lightbox. This is truly a documentary film dream team. I can’t think of a more thrilling combination of storytelling talent to bring the remarkable journey of these determined and heroic children to the world.”

Vasarhelyi and Chin, fresh off their narrative directorial debut “Nyad,” are directing alongside Colombian filmmaker Camilo Cruz. The film is executive produced by Anna Barnes for Little Monster Films. Hollman Morris is executive producing on behalf of Señal Colombia. Carolyn Bernstein serves as executive producer for National Geographic Documentary Films. WME negotiated the deal for Little Monster Films and director Camilo Cruz, and Submarine Entertainment’s Josh Braun for Lightbox. The project, produced in association with Colombian public broadcaster Señal, is being filmed in Colombia with the CINA Incentive (Audiovisual Investment Certificate), granted by the Colombian government and administered by Proimágenes Colombia.

“Our films have a common theme of the indomitability of the human spirit and its power to move, inspire and remind us all of what we are capable of when differences can be put aside. Lost in the Amazon is the epitome of this message. We’re thrilled to partner once again with our friends at National Geographic Documentary Films and thank them for their unwavering support. We’re honored to be working with Juan Camilo Cruz, from whom we have already learned so much,” said directors Vasarhelyi and Chin.

“As a Colombian-born filmmaker, I’m incredibly proud to tell this story, which shines a light on the people who call the Amazon home, and the wealth of wisdom it holds. I hope that this film will make us all think about the real value of the Amazon and the people who live there, as well as showcasing the incredible bravery of these four children, who are truly incredible heroes. I see this story as an example for all of us that it is possible to work together for something bigger than ourselves, something that this world desperately needs,” said director Juan Camilo Cruz.

Simon Chinn and Jonathan Chinn of Lightbox said: “The story of Lost in the Amazon is one of courage, strength and the resilience of four extraordinary children. We are incredibly proud to partner with Pacha Films to secure unprecedented access to the children themselves, to tell their own definitive and inspirational story for the first time. Juan Camilo Cruz, Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin are the perfect directing trio, and we can’t think of a better home than National Geographic for this project.”

Vasarhelyi and Chin most recently directed “Nyad,” about Diana Nyad’s 110-mile swim from Cuba to Florida, which earned Academy Award, Golden Globe, and SAG nominations for its stars Annette Bening and Jodie Foster. Their groundbreaking film “Free Solo,” an intimate, unflinching portrait of rock climber Alex Honnold, won seven Emmys, a BAFTA and the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2019. Their first film together, “Meru,” won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival in 2015 and was on the 2016 Oscar shortlist for Best Documentary Feature. More recently, they directed the BAFTA- and DGA-nominated documentary “The Rescue,” chronicling the against-all-odds rescue of 12 boys and their coach from deep inside a flooded cave in northern Thailand. Their new National Geographic series “Photographer” recently premiered on Disney+, and their film “Wild Life” was released by National Geographic Documentary Films in 2023. They are set to direct the upcoming National Geographic Documentary Film “Endurance.”

Camilo Cruz is an Emmy- and BAFTA-winning filmmaker. He recently served as the executive producer for the Apple documentary series “Messi’s World Cup: The Rise of a Legend,” focusing on Lionel Messi during the 2022 World Cup. Throughout his career, Camilo Cruz has worked on a number of notable films, including “In Her Hands,” a documentary for Netflix about the youngest female mayor in Afghanistan, made in collaboration with Oscar-nominated director Marcel Mettelsiefen and Hidden Light, Hillary Clinton’s production company. Additionally, he has collaborated with Oscar-nominated director Matthew Heineman on projects such as “City of Ghosts” and “The Boy from Medellin,” exploring stories about the war in Syria and Colombian musician J Balvin, respectively. Camilo Cruz also directed “Venezuela: Country of Lost Children” for ARTE in Germany and is currently working on the documentary “Artem” in Ukraine alongside Sundance-winning filmmaker Artem Ryzhykov.

Jon Creamer

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