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Oscar-winners are directing documentary about rediscovery of Shackleton’s lost ship Endurance

Announcement made ahead of Perth talk by expedition team

Endurance: Shackleton's ship beneath the ice. Image: RSGS
Endurance: Shackleton's ship beneath the ice. Image: RSGS

A documentary film based on the epic search to find the lost ship of Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton is now in production, it’s been confirmed.

National Geographic Documentary Films have announced that Academy Award-winning directors Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin along with BAFTA-nominated director Natalie Hewit are to direct the film with the working title Endurance.

Expedition members to speak in Perth

The announcement comes as the team who found the ship on March 5, 2022, in an expedition funded and organised by the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust, prepare to speak at the Royal Scottish Geographical Society in Perth – as featured in The Courier.

Ruth Johnston, Consequential’s multiple Emmy Award and Academy Award winning producer and executive producer, is producing the film.

Chai and Chin will produce under their Academy, BAFTA and multiple Emmy Award-winning production company Little Monster Films.

Academy Award nominee and five-time Emmy winner Bob Eisenhardt will serve as editor and producer.

It will be available exclusively on National Geographic Channels and Disney+.

A release date has not been set.

‘Grit and perseverance’

“We are delighted to share this inspiring story of exploration, grit and perseverance with the world,” said Carolyn Bernstein, executive vice president of Documentary Films for National Geographic.

The wreck of the Endurance beneath the Weddell Sea. Image: Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust/RSGS

“Chai and Jimmy are bold, ambitious and nuanced storytellers, perfectly cast to bring this gripping story to life, along with their exceptionally talented co-director Nat Hewit, who has a unique first-hand perspective as part of the Endurance22 expedition.

“We feel privileged to share this astounding discovery with audiences around the world and to dramatise the extraordinary tale of survival that started it all.”

Endurance22 success

As featured previously in The Courier, Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust organised and funded the expedition to locate the shipwreck off the coast of Antarctica, where the Endurance sank in 1915.

The ship remained inaccessible and undiscovered for over a century until its discovery on March 5, 2022 ― 100 years after Sir Ernest Shackleton’s death.

Shackleton’s Endurance: How do you find a ship that’s been lost beneath the ice for 100 years?

The expedition was led by polar geographer Dr John Shears with marine archaeologist Mensun Bound as director of exploration and Nicolas (Nico) Vincent as expedition subsea manager.

Joining them on board the South African icebreaker Agulhas II was a crew of scientists, archaeologists, and a team of highly experienced extreme environment filmmakers, led by director Natalie Hewit and Dan Snow, who documented the events leading up to the historic discovery in real time for History Hit.

To help locate the shipwreck, the team used submersibles called Saab Sabretooths equipped with 4k cameras and lighting arrays.

Examining charts on the bridge while searching for the Endurance. Image: Unpix

The ship continues to remain untouched and without any artefacts removed, but the results of the discovery will provide significant insights into Ernest Shackleton’s imperial trans-Antarctic expedition and offer an incredible opportunity to bring the stories of Shackleton and the 27 men on his crew to new generations.

Adventure of a lifetime

Director Natalie Hewit said: “It was the adventure of a lifetime to be part of the Endurance22 expedition, and I’m excited to be collaborating with Chai, Jimmy, Ruth and the rest of the team to bring this incredible story to audiences everywhere.

“What happened to Shackleton and his crew on the Weddell Sea – and how they responded and persevered – is the stuff of legend.

Endurance trapped in the sea ice of the Weddell Sea in the Antarctic, taken by expedition photographer Frank Hurley in 1915. Image: RSGS

“Having been part of this amazing discovery, I am so honoured to have the opportunity to tell the inspiring story of Shackleton and his crew, capturing important history while showcasing the very cutting edge in deep sea exploration and filmmaking technology that helped us to make history in March 2022.”

RSGS Perth event

*Shackleton’s Ship Beneath the Ice: A Spirit of Endurance, Tuesday March 28, Perth Concert Hall, 7.30pm, tickets: