Nat Geo Doc 'Torn' Will Aim to Follow in Footsteps of 'Free Solo' (Exclusive)

'Torn' Still - Publicity - H 2020
Max Lowe/National Geographic Documentary Films

One year after Free Solo won the best documentary feature Oscar and in the same month that The Cave was nominated for it, another project from National Geographic Documentary Films could be headed for awards season attention.

Torn — like Free Solo, a doc feature that illustrates the risks and rewards of extreme climbing by chronicling the experiences of some of the world's greatest extreme climbers — is now in post-production and will be released in theaters later this year, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

Nat Geo produced the film in partnership with Lightbox, the studio co-founded by cousins Simon Chinn, a two-time Oscar winner (Man on Wire and Searching for Sugar Man) and an Emmy winner, and Jonathan Chinn, an Oscar nominee (Black Sheep) and Emmy winner, as well as Chris Murphy.

The film marks the directorial debut of Max Lowe, who turns his lens on his own family as the body of his father, the legendary climber Alex Lowe, is located 17 years after his death in an avalanche on the Himalayan peak Mount Shishapangma, alongside that of his cameraman and fellow climber David Bridges. The renowned mountaineer Conrad Anker, Alex's best friend and climbing partner, miraculously survived the avalance, and went on to marry Alex's widow and helped to raise his three sons, including Max.

The film includes footage of both Alex Lowe's ill-fated climb and his son's arduous journey to return to the spot where his father perished.

"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," Max Lowe says. "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," says Carolyn Bernstein, National Geographic's EVP global scripted content and documentary films. "We are confident his family's inspiring and emotionally complex story will move audiences around the world."

The Chinns assert, "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 ot the screen. Their willingness to share the story with the world for the first time is sure to strike a chord with audiences." And Murphy adds, "Sharing his story of love and loss through the medium of film takes vulnerability and courage. Max exploring his father's past and reconciling with his family's story could be the most challenging summit of his life."