Nat Geo, Imagine Documentaries to partner on chef Jose Andres doc

The next project from National Geographic Documentary Films and director Ron Howard, producer Brian Grazer and Imagine Documentaries will be a feature documentary on chef and humanitarian José Andrés and ...
April 16, 2020

The next project from National Geographic Documentary Films and director Ron Howard, producer Brian Grazer and Imagine Documentaries will be a feature documentary on chef and humanitarian José Andrés and his non-profit, World Central Kitchen, as they rebuild nations after disaster, including those affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The currently untitled film boasts exclusive access to World Central Kitchen’s initiatives and archives, and follows Andrés (pictured) and his team as they journey across the globe while collaborating with local chefs to feed affected people and first responders. The film document the restoration of community through food.

The food-focused first responders have battled hunger after crisis by serving out 16 million meals and are now bringing healthy meals to quarantined cruise ship passengers, school children, medical professionals, the elderly and the most vulnerable through the #ChefsforAmerica program.

“Serving people a plate of fresh food after a disaster is more than just about calories to fill them up,” Andrés said in a statement. “A hot meal is comfort, dignity, hope — a sign that someone cares and that tomorrow will be better.”

“When we first started shooting Rebuilding Paradise, I was amazed to see the immediate impact that José and the World Central Kitchen team had on the citizens of Paradise, California, in the aftermath of the crippling fires that destroyed their town,” director Ron Howard added. “And now, following him as he helps those most in need during this pandemic, I realized that the work he’s doing around the world is one of the most critical and oftentimes overlooked necessities in disaster relief. I’m honored to share his mission with audiences around the world.”

Imagine Documentaries’ Sara Bernstein and Justin Wilkes serve as producers, while the film will be executive produced by Imagine Entertainment’s Michael Rosenberg and Louisa Velis, World Central Kitchen’s Nate Mook and Richard Wolffe, and National Geographic Documentary Films’ Carolyn Bernstein and Ryan Harrington.

Elsewhere, National Geographic Documentary Films has greenlit a documentary short on the all-female anti-poaching unit in Zimbabwe from executive producer and three-time Academy Award-winner James Cameron.

Directed by Maria Wilhelm, Akashinga: The Brave Ones (pictured) will chronicle the journey of founder Damien Mander – a former Australian special forces soldier and anti-poaching leader – and his women-only team of rangers, known as Akashinga, as they face down poachers in an attempt to save a number of Africa’s key species, including elephants, that are reaching levels of near extinction.  

“The illegal trafficking of wildlife is one of the world’s largest criminal industries, linked to terrorism and, some evidence suggests, to the pandemic we’re struggling to stop,” said Mander, founder and CEO of the International Anti-Poaching Foundation and Akashinga, in a statement. “Wildlife trafficking must be stopped at the source. This is the job of wildlife rangers like the Akashinga. They’re the first and last line of defense not just for nature, but also for humanity.”

“While we battle with an increasingly powerful viral enemy, the poaching wars rage on,” added Cameron. “The Akashinga are front-line warriors — fiercely committed to protecting Africa’s most vulnerable species and to securing a positive future for their communities. They fight to ensure nature wins.”

Akashinga: The Brave Ones is produced by Kim Butts, Drew Pulley and Maria Wilhelm, executive director of the Avatar Alliance Foundation; it is executive produced by Cameron.

The doc short will enjoy its world premiere at the EarthxFilm Festival, which will be held virtually April 22 to 27 and celebrates the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. The film will then broadcast on National Geographic later this year in 171 countries and 43 languages.

Watch a film trailer below:

With files from Kelly Anderson and Daniele Alcinii

Photo courtesy National Geographic (Credit: World Central Kitchen)

About The Author