National Geographic’s Sundance award-winning documentary Sea of Shadows will make its global broadcast debut on the network on Saturday, November 9 at 9 PM, premiering commercial free. The premiere will weigh anchor on the film’s global rollout that will see it on small screens in 172 countries and 42 languages.
It’s the latest move for the pic since National Geographic Documentary Films acquired the Richard Ladkani-directed documentary in a $3 million worldwide deal, just after it won the Sundance Audience Award for World Cinema Documentary. The film, produced by Terra Mater Factual Studios in association with Leonardo DiCaprio and Appian Way, Malaika Pictures and Wild Lens Collective, is coming off a limited theatrical release in the U.S., Mexico, the UK and Austria.
Sea of Shadows is constructed as a thriller of sorts that spotlights a rescue mission to save a collapsing ecosystem and with it, the vaquita – the most endangered and elusive whale on earth. In the Sea of Cortez, a war is being waged by Mexican drug cartels and Chinese traffickers. A native species of fish, the totoaba, are being poached at an alarming rate because of a superstitious belief among some in China that their bladders — which cost more per ounce than gold — possess miraculous healing powers. Nicknamed the “cocaine of the sea,” the rare fish have triggered a multimillion-dollar black market that threatens not only their existence, but virtually all marine life in the region – including the vaquita.
The docu tracks scientists, high-tech conservationists, investigative journalists, undercover agents and the Mexican Navy put their lives on the line to save the last remaining vaquita and bring the crime syndicate to justice.
Screenings have taken place for the Mexican Senate, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the United Nations’ headquarters in New York, Geneva and Vienna among other venues.
“The response to the film from audiences around the world at festivals and screenings has been amazing, and I’m so thrilled that it will be airing globally on National Geographic and exposing new viewers to the plight the vaquita and the shadowy factions that are destroying all marine life in the Sea of Cortez,” Ladkani said. “My goal as a director is to try to have a lasting impact on our world by focusing on issues that threaten our natural environment, and I hope the film shows viewers how incredibly urgent and symbolic this issue is, but also imparts a sense of hope, that this precious ecosystem can be saved from total collapse. Our planet is under attack, but I believe each one of us has the ability to become part of the solution.”
National Geographic Documentary Films’ recent releases include the Oscar-winning Free Solo, Toronto Film Festival audience award winner The Cave and the Sundance buzz title Science Fair.