National Geographic Documentary Films and Picturehouse to Release Liz Garbus’ “BECOMING COUSTEAU” on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021

Feature Documentary Unveils Never-Before-Seen Footage of Legendary Oceanographer Jacques Cousteau With Exclusive Access to The Cousteau Society Archives 

“For most of history, man has had to fight nature to survive; in this century, he is beginning to realize that, in order to survive, he must protect it.”
– Jacques Cousteau


WASHINGTON--()--National Geographic Documentary Films, Story Syndicate and Picturehouse announced today that they will release BECOMING COUSTEAU, the latest film from two-time Oscar® nominee and two-time Emmy® winning director Liz Garbus (“The Farm: Angola, USA,” “What Happened, Miss Simone?”) exclusively in theaters on Friday, Oct. 22. Garbus also produced the film — which will have its world premiere at the 2021 Telluride Film Festival — along with Mridu Chandra (“Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin”) and Academy Award® winners Dan Cogan (“Icarus”) and Evan Hayes (“Free Solo”), under his ACE Content banner.

For this extraordinary and immersive documentary, Garbus poured through 550 hours of archival material and never before seen footage to let Cousteau’s films, words and recollections tell his own story. BECOMING COUSTEAU shines a spotlight on the man many of us grew up worshipping yet knew very little about. After prospecting for oil companies to support his globe-trotting adventuring, he had a late-in-life awakening and became the first great advocate for ocean preservation. Cousteau led a somewhat fractured family life, checkered with great loss, but he remained true to his one great love — the sea.

Over 100 hours of audio journal entries, interviews and observations from collaborators and crew members add to this inside look at Cousteau. The documentary also chronicles his first wife and collaborator Simone Melchior (known aboard the Calypso as “The Shepherdess”), his family experiences, his second wife Francine Triplet, the creation of The Cousteau Society and the crucial work they do, and his evolution into one of the most important environmental voices of the 20th century, whose words and images are more vital today than ever.

Capt. Jacques-Yves Cousteau was one of the 20th century’s great explorers, a filmmaker and beloved adventurer who documented the exotic wonders below the ocean with pioneering equipment that yielded a Cannes Film Festival-winning film, two Academy Awards, and a pair of iconic and long-running television shows, “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau” and “The Cousteau Odyssey.” His work became synonymous with life on the sea and on his famous boat, the Calypso.

He authored over 50 books on his aquatic life and invented the Aqua-Lung, making what came to be known as SCUBA possible and available to everyone. Yet, it was as an environmentalist that Cousteau would have his most lasting impacts, alerting the world about the warming oceans decades before the climate crisis made headlines. Instrumental in protecting Antarctica and taking part in the first Earth Summit, Cousteau’s insight into what needs to be done for the planet continues to inspire generations.

Says Garbus, “It took a great mind, tremendous bravery and a pioneering spirit to do what Cousteau did in his lifetime, and today we are surrounded by imagery and technology that exists because of him. His was a heroic journey — from hubris and adventure to conscience and global citizenship. At the end of the day, the future of our species, and the survival of huge swaths of biodiversity on the planet, will depend on innovation in the spirit of Cousteau.”

Bernstein adds, “We cannot imagine a more perfect pairing than Garbus and Cousteau, two trailblazing filmmakers who explore their subjects with depth, complexity and empathy. We are thrilled to bring this beautiful and powerful film to audiences this fall.”

Becoming Cousteau is produced by Story Syndicate, in association with The Cousteau Society and Ace Content for National Geographic Documentary Films. Liz Garbus, Dan Cogan, Mridu Chandra and Evan Hayes serve as producers. Julie Gaither, Carolyn Bernstein and Ryan Harrington serve as executive producers.

National Geographic Documentary Films previously released the Academy Award, BAFTA and seven-time Emmy Award-winning film Free Solo and the Academy Award-nominated film The Cave. Other critically acclaimed films under the banner include Ron Howard’s Rebuilding Paradise; Sundance Audience Award winners Science Fair and Sea of Shadows; Emmy winners LA 92 and Jane, both of which were included in the top 15 documentaries considered for an Academy Award in 2017; and Dupont Award winner Hell on Earth: The Fall of Syria and the Rise of ISIS.

About National Geographic Documentary Films

National Geographic Documentary Films is committed to bringing the world premium, feature documentaries that cover timely, provocative and globally relevant stories from the very best documentary filmmakers in the world. National Geographic Documentary Films is a division of National Geographic Partners, a joint venture between Disney and the National Geographic Society. Furthering knowledge and understanding of our world has been the core purpose of National Geographic for 133 years, and now we are committed to going deeper, pushing boundaries, going further for our consumers … and reaching millions of people around the world in 172 countries and 43 languages every month as we do it. NGP returns 27 percent of our proceeds to the nonprofit National Geographic Society to fund work in the areas of science, exploration, conservation and education. For more information visit or, or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

About Picturehouse

Picturehouse is a Los Angeles-based film marketing and distribution company led by CEO Bob Berney and COO Jeanne R. Berney. The company acquires, markets and distributes global content across all platforms. Originally formed in 2005 as a joint venture between Time Warner’s HBO Films and New Line Cinema, the Picturehouse brand has a long history of storied excellence. For more information visit, or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

About Story Syndicate

Story Syndicate is a New York-based film and television production company devoted to premium nonfiction and scripted content founded by award-winning filmmakers Liz Garbus and Dan Cogan. Recent projects include ALL IN, an Amazon Studios feature documentary with Stacey Abrams on voter suppression and the struggle for equal rights in America; I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK, an HBO event series about Michelle McNamara and the pursuit of the Golden State Killer; and THE INNOCENCE PROJECT, a Netflix series that follows The Innocence Project as it attempts to free nine wrongfully convicted prisoners from incarceration. Upcoming, previously announced projects include FAUCI, a National Geographic feature documentary providing a rare glimpse into the life of the ultimate public servant, Dr. Anthony Fauci, directed by John Hoffman and Janet Tobias; NUCLEAR FAMILY, an HBO documentary series directed by Ry Russo-Young; and MAYOR PETE, an journey into the life and recent presidential campaign of Pete Buttigieg with unprecedented vérité access, directed by Jesse Moss.


Tiffany Malloy, Tiffical Public Relations, 201-925-1122,
Kristin Montalbano, National Geographic, 202-912-3244,

Release Summary

National Geographic Documentary Films and Picturehouse to Release Liz Garbus’ “BECOMING COUSTEAU” on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021


Tiffany Malloy, Tiffical Public Relations, 201-925-1122,
Kristin Montalbano, National Geographic, 202-912-3244,