Exclusive: Westbrook Studios and REI Co-op Studios have teamed up to make a documentary about the first all-black team backed by Nepali Sherpas on the summit of Everest. News & Documentary Emmy Nominee Rolake Bamgabos (Connected to the world) And Justice A. Whitaker (Prohibition applies) Through their Shango Light Films banner, they will direct and produce the project about the team’s historic achievement earlier this month in their feature debut.
The still-untitled documentary will follow nine athletes as they transfer legacy to a white-dominated sport and experience a unique global cultural exchange during their winning journey to the top of the famous peak. At the heart of the story of Everest climbing and the year of training the mountaineers as a team, the real emotional anchor of the film is embedded in the individual journeys conducted by each mountaineer, representing the diversity of the black experience of the outdoor community. The team includes The North Face Manoh Ainu and Fred Campbell, as well as Abby Dion, James Kagambi, Thomas Moore, Damon Mullins, Rosemary Sal, Eddie Taylor, team leader Philip Henderson, team photographer Evan Green and communications technology / researcher Adina Scott.
When the full circle team climbed Everest on May 12, Bamgbose and Whitaker began negotiating an expedition dock with team leader Henderson in early 2020, and were eventually granted exclusive access. Husband and wife pair will be the first project together. The film will be co-produced by Westbrook’s SVP and documentary chief Jannat Gargi Bamgbos and Whitaker, with Paolo Motola, Joe Jade Crosby and Hannah Boyd producing for the executive REI co-op studio. The project marks Westbrook Studios’ first feature documentary and continues the slate of short- and feature-length documentaries from REI Co-op Studios. UTA Independent Film Group is managing the global sales of the film.
“It is an honor to co-direct this film. The Full Circle Expedition represents the next step in our cinematic work focused on increasing visibility for Black Stories, and we are thrilled to be working with Westbrook and REI Co-op Studios on this groundbreaking and historic project, ”said Bamgbos and Whitaker. “It’s been an incredible journey, and the relationship we have with the individual members of the team is the bond that makes this kind of project possible. Much like the expedition, we are bringing a new vision to the world of climbing and outdoor film. ”
“REI Co-op Studios is committed to creating transformative stories that challenge the historically-narrow narrative of what it means to be outside and for whom,” said Motola, who serves as REI Co-op’s content and media director. “We are honored to have the filmmakers support Bamgbos and Whitaker in their vision, to celebrate the full circle team’s achievements and to contribute to a more equitable outdoor community.”
Gargi of Westbrook Studios added, “We are thrilled to be collaborating with such an incredible filmmaking team to share the story of this historic adventure.” “It’s the kind of story that Westbrook Studios tries to tell, inspiring others to dream big and live their true purpose. We are honored to be the first documentary on our slate for this inspiring project and to bring a real-life story to a worldwide audience. ”
Bamgabos is an award-winning filmmaker with over 15 years of experience creating and directing compelling documentaries, short films and television news content. She received a 2020 News and Documentary Emmy nomination for directing and producing Connected to the worldOne hour special feature for the first original documentary series of the New York Times, The Weekly. She also received a 2017 news and documentary Emmy name Stand up and kneel up and downA short film he directed and produced for HBO Vice News Tonight About the impact of the Colin Copernicus protest, which led the California high school football team to a candid and honest conversation about race and policing in America. He recently produced Antoine Foucault-directed The Day Sports Stand StillAnd is currently co-managing The highest modelA six-part YouTube series that will pay tribute to black women who broke through barriers to transform the fashion and beauty industry.
Whitaker is an independent writer, director and producer who focuses on illuminating black stories. He recently directed the documentary Prohibition applies (Best Short Documentary, Urban Media Makers Film Festival) and Children’s Media Sesame road And Moonbagh Entertainment. He currently manages branded content with Brave Studios and is a professor of non-fiction storytelling and narrative screenwriting at Pratt University Film School in Brooklyn.
Westbrook Studios is Westbrook Inc.’s film and TV studio, founded in 2019 by Will and Jada Pinkett Smith with Ko Yada and Miguel Melendez. Award-winning creative producer and filmmaker Gargi joined the company in 2021, most recently Academy Award-winning feature Doc. Summer of the soul (… or, when revolution can’t be television)Three-time Academy Award-nominated documentary, Run away And Academy Award-nominated documentary short, Home led me. Prior to joining Westbrook, Gargi served as SVP of Documentary for Vice Studios, the Global Production Division of Vice Media Group, where he led programming strategy and content development, focusing on documentaries and feature documentaries.
REI Co-op Studio is a handful of retailer REI interior materials. Upcoming features are also included in the studio slate Space Audit And Freibred Face & Me.
A photo of the full circle group can be found below. Bamgbose and Whitaker are represented by UTA.