Edinburgh ’15: Discovery sets sights on “Sherpa” doc

Discovery Channel president Rich Ross revealed at the Edinburgh TV Festival that the network will air Jennifer Peedom's doc Sherpa (pictured) in more than 200 countries in 2016.
August 27, 2015

Discovery Channel has set its sights on Jennifer Peedom’s Mount Everest-centered Sherpa (pictured) for its next major documentary push.

The film – which finds the U.S. net partnering with Discovery Networks International – focuses on Mount Everest’s Sherpa community following the deadly April 2014 avalanche that killed 16 of its members.

Discovery Channel president Rich Ross revealed today (August 27) at the Edinburgh TV Festival that Discovery would air the doc in more than 200 countries next year. The network – which has recommitted itself to documentaries – most recently backed Oscar winner Louie Psihoyos‘s Racing Extinction, which will air in a global TV event across Discovery’s international markets on December 2.

Sherpa originally began as a documentary about the forthcoming climbing season from the perspective of Sherpas following a 2013 confrontation with Western climbers. Peedom also planned to focus on Sherpa Phurba Tashi’s world record-breaking attempt to summit Everest for the 22nd time. During this process, however, Peedom’s team captured the avalanche that struck the Khumbu Icefall, the area above the Mount Everest base camp, on April 18, 2014.

Discovery was also on Mount Everest at this time preparing for Everest Jump Live with climber Joby Ogwyn, which was then cancelled and later packaged as a documentary about the rescue and recovery efforts.

“The disaster provoked a drastic reappraisal of the Everest climbing industry, and it served as a turning point for many of the Sherpas and their families as they considered whether to continue working on the mountain,” the network said in a release.

“Jennifer Peedom scales the heights of storytelling in Sherpa because of the deep trust she engendered in the Sherpa people and the unparalleled access they granted her as a result,” said John Hoffman, executive VP of documentaries and specials for the Discovery Channel. “The result is a tour de force that will forever change the way viewers see Mount Everest.”

Sherpa was produced by Bridget Ikin, co-founder of Australian film and television shop Felix Media, and John Smithson, joint creative director of Arrow Media.

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