The documentary hits just keep coming in the wake of “Bowling for Columbine.”
The latest success comes from IFC’s “Touching the Void,” a drama-doc based on Joe Simpson‘s bestseller about his near-lethal 1985 attempt with Simon Yates to scale a peak in the Peruvian Andes. With Simpson badly injured, Yates was forced to cut the rope to his friend in order to avoid being pulled to his own death.
“Void” switches between a reconstruction, with actors playing the climbers as their younger selves, and interviews with Yates and Simpson. Despite the ultra-serious tone, “Void” has topped $4.1 million in grosses to make it onto the top 10 list of docs, excluding large-format pics.
IFC prexy Jonathan Sehring bought the doc — produced by PBS and several British partners — after seeing a few minutes of footage at last year’s Cannes fest.
“This has happened a bit under the radar, but nature-based films like ‘Touching the Void,’ ‘Step Into Liquid’ and ‘Winged Migration’ are really stretching the boundaries of what audiences expect,” Sehring opines. “We’re going far beyond pretty pictures.”
Sehring hopes “Void” can duplicate the Oscar-winning feat of another hard-edged doc, Errol Morris‘ “The Fog of War,” which grossed $4 million domestically.
“Void” director Kevin McDonald won a documentary Oscar three years ago for “One Day in September,” his reconstruction of the hostage crisis at the 1972 Olympics.