In 2018, a shocking event made headlines around the world: a young American missionary, John Chau, was killed by arrows while attempting to contact one of the world’s most isolated Indigenous peoples on remote North Sentinel Island. From Emmy winning directors Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss (“Boys State”) with Oscar winning producer Simon Chinn and Emmy-winning producer Jonathan Chinn of Lightbox, comes National Geographic Documentary Films’ THE MISSION, which uncovers the gripping story beyond the headlines. Through exclusive interviews and with unprecedented access to Chau’s secret plans, personal diaries, and video archives, THE MISSION examines the mythology of exploration that inspired him, the evangelical community that supported his quest, and reveals his own father’s heartbreak as Chau’s youthful thirst for adventure became a fatal obsession. Co-directors Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss (Mayor Pete, The Bandit, The Overnighters) join us for a conversation on their approach to telling a story fraught with questions regarding our collective perceptions on indigenous culture, the consequences of religious zealotry, and where does one’s selfless devotion end and a blinding messiah complex begin.
About the filmmakers – Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss have been filmmaking partners for 20 years. They directed “Boys State,” which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and was released by Apple Original Films and A24. The film won the 2021 Primetime Emmy Award for Best Nonfiction Film and received DGA and Emmy nominations for Outstanding Directorial Achievement. Their previous film, “The Overnighters,” won the Special Jury Prize for Intuitive Filmmaking at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and was distributed by Drafthouse Films and Netflix. “Boys State” and “The Overnighters” were both shortlisted for the Academy Award® for Feature Documentary. Jesse also directed “The Family,” a five-part series for Netflix, as well as the “Payday” episode of the Netflix series “Dirty Money.” Their recent film about Pete Buttigieg’s campaign for president, “Mayor Pete,” was released by Amazon Studios. Upcoming projects include “Girls State” for Apple and, as producers, an independent film about the reintroduction of wild bears in the French Pyrénées.
“There’s something wonderfully Herzogian about “The Mission,” a philosophical quest in which wild ambition goes hand in hand with folly at the very limits of so-called civilization.”
“a riveting narrative … [that] proves most enticing when it questions romanticized narratives about unexplored lands. … In showing the seductive power of certain stories … The Mission crafts a tale that’s hard to forget.“ – Peter Debruge, Variety