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‘Navalny’ Team And National Geographic Launch Documentary Project On Pelletier Family, Who Went On World Tour After Their Kids Faced Oncoming Blindness

EXCLUSIVE: The Oscar-winning team behind Navalny is embarking on its next project, a National Geographic documentary under the working title Blink of an Eye. It will focus on the Pelletier family, “a happy, adventurous family of six,” who decided to go on a world tour after learning three of their children would soon lose their vision.

Navalny’s Daniel Roher is directing with Edmund Stenson, who will make his feature debut on the film. MRC and Fishbowl Films are producing, with Fishbowl’s Melanie Miller and Diane Becker on board to produce. They won Academy Awards for producing Navalny (along with fellow producers Shane Boris and Odessa Rae).

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The Pelletier’s world “was changed forever when they found out three of the four children were diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a rare, incurable disorder that leads to permanent blindness,” noted a release about the documentary. “Edith Lemay and Sebastian Pelletier decide to take their kids on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to experience all of the beauty the world has to offer while they can still see it. The film will follow the Pelletiers on their journey as they prepare for the inevitability of the future.”

Daniel Roher accepts the Best Documentary Feature Oscar for 'Navalny'
Daniel Roher accepts the Best Documentary Feature Oscar for ‘Navalny’

Stenson and Roher said in a statement, “Our film moves from the breathtaking and the beautiful to the quiet and the intimate, telling the story of a family who refuses to let the future define their present. It is a tale filled with familial strength and childlike wonder, and one that we believe will resonate with families across the world. To see our planet through the eyes of Mia, Léo, Colin and Laurent is a gift. We can’t wait to share it with everyone.”

Blink of an Eye (wt) is currently in production. The filmmakers are following the Pelletier family as they travel to Namibia, Zambia, Tanzania, Turkey, Mongolia and Indonesia, among other countries. The documentary will be available exclusively on National Geographic Channels and Disney+. A release date has not been announced yet.

“When we first heard the Pelletier family’s story, we were deeply moved and inspired,” said Carolyn Bernstein, executive vice president of Documentary Films for National Geographic. “We feel honored to work with the immensely talented Edmund Stenson, Daniel Roher, Fishbowl Films and MRC as we capture beautiful memories for Edith, Sebastian and their children.”

Stenson worked as an associate editor on Navalny, the Roher-directed film about the Russian opposition leader who was nearly killed in a Kremlin-backed poisoning plot. A British documentary director and editor, Stenson directed the award-winning Finding Fukue, a viral CBC success that has amassed over 13 million views online.

Roher’s films have taken him “to every corner of the globe,” a release noted. In addition to Navalny, he wrote and directed Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band, his feature documentary debut. The film premiered on the opening night of the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival. Roher is also an accomplished visual artist whose work has appeared in galleries worldwide.

National Geographic is premiering The Mission at the Telluride Film Festival this weekend, the documentary directed by Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss that explores the story of young evangelical John Chau, who attempted to convert to Christianity an Indigenous group living on a remote island in the Andaman Sea. He lost his life in the process.

NatGeo’s Bobi Wine: The People’s President premiered at Sundance and has gone on to screen at major film festivals around the world, including DocAviv in Tel Aviv, Israel, CPH:DOX in Copenhagen, and the Hamptons International Film Festival, where it was named Best Documentary. Moses Bwayo and Christopher Sharp directed the film about the hugely popular Ugandan musician-turned-politician who challenged the rule of his country’s dictator.

National Geographic’s Fire of Love earned an Oscar nomination earlier this year. Its 2018 documentary Free Solo, about climber Alex Honnold’s incredible ascent of Yosemite’s El Capitan without ropes, won the Academy Award as well as half a dozen Emmys.

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