Sir Edmund Hillary’s family will ascend the mountain that made their grandfather a household name in a new documentary being launched in Cannes.
Directed by Ben Webster, one of the world’s top expedition leaders, “Everest: Legacy” is currently in pre-production and will be shopped to buyers by New York-headquartered documentary sales firm Cargo Film & Releasing, which has picked up world rights.
The film follows Hillary’s son Peter and his grandchildren, along with the world’s best climbing Sherpa, Tendi, on an epic family climb of Everest next spring. Along the journey, the film will highlight the changes on Everest — which has become dangerously congested over the years with a high traffic of eager climbers — in contrast to when it was first climbed by Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay in May 1953.
In addition to the commercialization of Everest, the Himalayas are warming faster than the global average, and the glacial melt and its environmental impact makes it more dangerous for climbers and threatens the future of the mountain.
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The doc will also explore the family’s own history, which is inextricably linked to Everest, and highlight the relationship between the Hillary family and Sherpa community over the years.
Filmmakers will access hard-to-reach areas of the mountain, such as the “Death Zone” at 8,000 meters, using B-3 helicopters and specially designed high-altitude drones, having received special permissions by the Nepal government.
The government has also allowed the film to capture significantly restricted cultural sites in Nepal to deepen the story of the Tendi and the Sherpas who risk their lives on the mountain. (Jennifer Peedom’s 2015 documentary “Sherpa” went some way in detailing the tensions between the Sherpas and the climbers who pay thousands to summit Everest.)
“In 2022, we’re going back to make a film about Mount Everest, about the Hillary history on Mount Everest,” said Peter Hillary. “And to further that history, a third generation of young Hillarys will climb the mountain to reach the summit to experience what their grandfather and father experienced on this great mountain.”
The film has already secured the full support of the Hillary family along with access to rarely seen archival footage of Edmund Hillary and his family at Everest in the 1960s.
“Everest: Legacy” is scheduled to be completed in May 2023 to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Hillary and Norgay’s first ascent of the mountain.
Director Ben Webster has had a 25-year career as an expedition leader, spearheading more than 30 major expeditions on five of the world’s continents. He is also a television producer, documentary filmmaker, and photojournalist. Webster has led five successful and major multimedia expeditions on Mount Everest where he has not only reached the summit but also produced the first live broadband television broadcast from the mountain back to North American networks.
Peter Hillary, the film’s main protagonist, is a veteran of five Everest expeditions and has reached the summit twice. The producers bill his involvement as “the living, breathing narrative thread that connects the 65 years between his father’s first ascent and today.” Other members of the Hillary family embarking on the expedition are George Hillary, Alexander Hillary, and Lily Hillary.
Meanwhile, Tendi is a former Buddhist monk who has summited Everest 11 times from both the North and South sides.
At Cannes, Cargo’s other titles include the Tribeca-premiering “The Conductor,” “Reflection: A Walk with Water” and “Father of The Cyborgs,” along with “Cannon Arm and The Arcade Quest” and “The Conservation Game.”
Watch an exclusive statement from Peter Hillary about the making of the film below: