Ed Douglas' book Tenzing: Hero of Everest (2003) about Tenzing Norgay, who made the first ascent of Everest alongside Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953, is to be adapted for a Netflix film under President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama's production company Higher Ground Productions. The project will be directed by acclaimed Australian filmmaker Jennifer Peedom, director of the award-winning films Sherpa and Mountain.
In a press release published on literary agency David Godwin Associates' website, the Obamas are quoted as saying: "We created Higher Ground to tell great stories. This group of projects builds upon that goal and the incredible path forged by films like 'Crip Camp,' 'Becoming,' and the Oscar-winning 'American Factory.' From science fiction to the beauty of our natural world to the relationships that define us, Higher Ground continues to strive for fresh perspectives, compelling characters, and a healthy dose of inspiration. We couldn't be more proud to team up with the brilliant artists behind each of these stories. Each of them has something important to say."
Born in Tibet, Tenzing Norgay made the journey from young porter to a first ascensionist of Everest. Before his historic ascent, Norgay had taken part in multiple expeditions, including the 1933 British Everest expedition, pre-war attempts from the mountain's Tibetan side and 1949 reconnaissance missions from the south. He was later chosen as sirdar to lead Eric Shipton's Everest team in 1951 and on Cho Oyu in 1952. Norgay brought personality and warmth to an endeavour that was inevitably cast in a heroic and patriotic light. On finally reaching the summit on 29 May 1953, with trinkets from his daughter and offerings for a deity in hand, he later wrote: "All I can say is that on Everest, I was not thinking about politics." Norgay was not an ethnic Sherpa but married three Sherpa women. He migrated first to Nepal, then to India and was an Indian citizen at his death.
Luke Davies, an Academy Award nominee and BAFTA winner, wrote the spec script for the film based on Tenzing: Hero of Everest. Peedom and Davies are producing alongside Higher Ground Productions. David Michôd and Norbu Tenzing Norgay, Tenzing Norgay's son, will be executive producers.
Ed Douglas commented: "I'm really excited that Tenzing's incredible Everest story is being brought to the screen. It feels like a great moment. He broke down a lot of barriers to get to the summit of the world. I'm glad too that Jen Peedom is directing; she knows the mountain as well as the man."
Ed recently released a new book, Himalaya: A Human History, which was shortlisted for the 2020 Duff Cooper Prize.