Academy Award-winning filmmaker Ron Howard is set to direct a feature-length documentary project for National Geographic Documentary Films that will follow the community of Paradise, California as it attempts to rebuild in the wake of the devastating wildfires that ravaged The Golden State this past October.
Produced by Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine Documentaries, the doc division of the New York-based Imagine Entertainment, Rebuilding Paradise will follow the citizens whose lives have been forever scorched by tragedy, in the aftermath of the destruction over the course of a year as they come together to rebuild amid the devastation of natural disaster. Featured in the film will be affected families, volunteers on the front lines of town restoration, community leaders, school and government officials, and first responders.
The densely populated town of Paradise in the Sierra Nevada foothills had more than 14,000 homes destroyed across 153,000 acres and more than 50,000 people displaced by the fires.
The event was personal for Howard, who has relatives in the area and had previously spent time in Paradise.
“The people of Paradise lost everything in the blink of an eye,” said Howard in a statement. “The way in which the citizens are coming together to rebuild is beautiful and hopeful — but no one should have to live through this. Theirs is a cautionary tale about the impending effects of climate change and what it takes to restore the communities ravaged by it.”
The announcement comes as National Geographic’s Free Solo, from Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, picked up an Academy Award nomination on Tuesday (Jan. 22). The critically acclaimed climbing feature has also picked up nominations from the BAFTA Film Awards, Directors Guild of America, American Cinema Editors and Cinema Audio Society. The film also claimed three Cinema Eye Honors.
In just over two years, National Geographic Documentary Films has released a number of acclaimed non-fiction projects, including the Sundance- and SXSW Audience Award-winning Science Fair; Emmy Award winners LA 92 and Jane; and the Dupont Award-winning Hell on Earth: The Fall of Syria and the Rise of ISIS.