“This is one of those stories that couldn’t possibly be invented, that has the jaw-dropping twists and reverses only reality can provide. If you want to know why documentaries are increasingly capturing audiences’ imaginations, this is a good place to start.” —Kenneth Turan, The Los Angeles Times
(San Francisco, CA)—DEEP WATER, the riveting true story of the fateful voyage of Donald Crowhurst, who faced almost certain death or financial ruin when he entered the first solo, nonstop, round-the-world boat race, will have its television premiere as part of the sixth season of the Emmy Award–winning PBS series Independent Lens, hosted by Terrence Howard, on Sunday, June 15, at 9pm (check local listings).
The year is 1968. The public frenzy surrounding the heroic voyage of Francis Chichester, who single-handedly sailed around the world with only one stop in Australia a year earlier, has barely died down. To up the ante, The Sunday Times of London announces the first nonstop solo round-the-world sailing race. There are two prizes: the Golden Globe for the first man home and £5,000 for the fastest voyage.
Along with the seasoned sailors responding to the call of fame and fortune on the high seas is one Donald Crowhurst. A 36-year-old father of four, Crowhurst is a dreamer whose marine electronics business is ailing. Although he is far from being a world-class mariner, Crowhurst decides he should enter the race, and with each step he takes to prepare, he becomes increasingly unable to turn back. Compelled to go forward and urged on by others, he sets off in his small boat dangerously late, waving to his young wife and four children on the shore. Following the voyages of Crowhurst and the eight other competitors, DEEP WATER gradually reveals what happens to the participants as they sail off alone into the unchartered waters of the human soul.
A riveting story of life, death and a dream that went wildly wrong, DEEP WATER features a voiceover by recent Academy Award® winner Tilda Swinton, interviews with survivors and their families, and astonishing archival footage shot by the actual competitors during their year at sea. To learn more about the film and the issues, visit the companion website for DEEP WATER at Independent Lens online. Get detailed information on the film, watch preview clips, read an interview with the filmmaker, and explore the subject in depth with links and resources. The site also features a Talkback section for viewers to share their ideas and opinions. The DEEP WATER companion website launches in May 20 2008 at pbs.org/independentlens/deepwater. IFC Films released DEEP WATER theatrically.
About the Filmmakers
Louise Osmond (director) studied modern history at Oxford and joined ITN’s editorial trainee program when she graduated. She worked in the Europe bureau, covering events in Brussels, Paris and Rome, and as a foreign desk editor in London before leaving to work as a documentary director. Her recent work includes three feature-length documentaries: Blitz: London’s Firestorm and The Search for the Northwest Passage (Channel 4/PBS) and Looking for Victoria (for BBC1). Other recent credits include Why We Went to War and The Real Hughie Green (Channel 4), Timewatch: Death of the Battleship and To the Ends of the Earth: Hell on High Water, the story of the storm that hit the Sydney to Hobart yacht race in 1998 (Channel 4/CNN). She is a freelance director and last year co-founded the production company World’s End Pictures.
Jerry Rothwell (director) is an experienced documentary filmmaker with more than 10 years’ broadcast experience. He spent several years researching the story behind DEEP WATER. Television directing credits prior to this include The Late George Shaw (2004), two short films in Channel 4’s Modern Painters series (2003) and Fact Plus Fiction (2001). Rothwell played a lead role in developing Hi8us’s award-winning improvised dramas with young people for Channel 4 and also in establishing First Light, the Film Council’s program for young filmmakers, which has supported more than 500 films. He continues to work with Hi8us, most recently developing a Web-based digital storytelling project with Roma communities in Slovakia. He is now in production on his second feature documentary, Heavy Load.
Al Morrow (producer) brought the DEEP WATER project to APT Films as an independent producer, but has since joined the company as a development executive. DEEP WATER was her first full-length documentary feature for cinema. She is now producing Heavy Load, a feature documentary directed by Jerry Rothwell about a punk band made up of musicians with and without learning disabilities. Morrow is the founder of Stir Fried Films (co-producers of DEEP WATER), with Ben Ridley and Jonathan Banatvala.
Jonny Persey (producer) is an independent film producer and managing director of APT Films. He studied psychology at Cambridge University and spent many years as a youth worker and training consultant before producing his first feature film, Everyone’s Child, in Zimbabwe (1996). He subsequently trained at the National Film and Television School, during which time he produced a series of acclaimed short films, both independently and through the school. In 2004, he produced his second feature, Wondrous Oblivion, starring Delroy Lindo, Emily Woof and Sam Smith.
With DEEP WATER complete, Persey is in production on three micro-budget feature films and has a number of projects in active development. In addition, he is the school director of the Metropolitan Film School at Ealing Studios, serves on PACT’s Film Policy Group and is a member of ACE.
John Smithson (producer) is founder and creative director of Darlow Smithson Productions (DSP), a multi–award-winning independent television and film production company based in London. Widely regarded as an industry leader in high-quality factual programming, DSP has achieved worldwide recognition for its groundbreaking documentaries, series and docudramas. In a recent global industry peer poll, DSP was voted one of the world’s most admired and respected production companies. Smithson has extensive experience as a producer, director and executive producer and has won more than 20 international awards, including recognition from BAFTA, the RTS and the U.S. Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Recently he produced Touching the Void, the most successful British theatrical documentary in U.K. box office history and winner of 15 awards, including Outstanding British Film in the BAFTA Film Awards. Touching the Void also aired on PBS. His most recent television work is as creator and executive producer of Alive, a major docudrama series for the Discovery Channel (U.S.) and Channel 4.
About Independent Lens
Independent Lens is an Emmy® Award–winning weekly series airing Tuesday nights at 10pm on PBS, hosted by Terrence Howard. The acclaimed anthology series features unforgettable stories about unique individuals, communities and moments in history. Presented by ITVS, the series is supported by interactive companion websites and national publicity and community engagement campaigns. Independent Lens is jointly curated by ITVS and PBS and is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, with additional funding provided by PBS and the National Endowment for the Arts. The series producer is Lois Vossen. Visit pbs.org/independentlens.
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