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The Epic Story of the First Expedition Down The World’s
Greatest and Deadliest River

A New IMAX® Theatre Film From Orbita Max and Two-Time Academy Award®-Nominated Producers MacGillivray Freeman Films.

“The Nile is the most magnificent river in the world. No other river can compare. And no other river in the world is as closely associated with a particular culture and society as is the Nile. Without the Nile there would be no Egypt, no pharaohs, no pyramids.”

--Pasquale Scaturro, expedition leader

For thousands of years, man has been drawn to the Nile, known as “the Mt. Everest of rivers.” The quest to find its source consumed early explorers from the ancient Egyptians to Napoleon to the legendary Sir Richard Burton and David Livingstone. Over the past century, dozens of explorers have attempted to run the mighty river in a single expedition, but all have failed. At least a dozen men died trying, and in recent years, three were shot, two drowned, and another simply disappeared. Astonishingly, this epic journey has eluded humankind for centuries—until now.

On April 28, 2004, two intrepid explorers—expedition leader Pasquale Scaturro and his partner Gordon Brown—became the first in history to conquer all 3,260 miles of the world’s greatest river in a single descent from its source in the Ethiopian highlands to the Mediterranean Sea. For 114 days, the explorers and their crew faced nearly in-surmountable challenges as they made their way down the Blue Nile and Nile river in two rafts and a kayak, traversing three countries in some of the world’s remotest regions. Deadly crocodiles and hippos, the world’s most dangerous rapids, armed bandits, AK-47-toting militia, blinding sandstorms, exposure to malaria, and the relentless heat of the fierce desert sun are just some of the obstacles they faced—all while documenting their epic journey with an IMAX® camera and two videocams.

The story of this remarkable adventure is the subject of a new large format film, MYSTERY OF THE NILE, from Orbita Max and Academy Award®-nominated filmmakers MacGillivray Freeman Films, due in IMAX® theatres and other large format cinemas on February 18, 2005. Directed and written by Spanish filmmaker Jordi Llompart in his large format film debut, and produced by Llompart and veteran large format filmmaker Greg MacGillivray (two-time Oscar®-nominee, THE LIVING SEA, DOLPHINS, EVEREST), MYSTERY OF THE NILE features an international squad of adventurers, each with a personal mission. They include expedition leader Pasquale Scaturro, a geophysicist and experienced guide who has climbed Mt. Everest three times and run many of Africa’s toughest rivers; his expedition partner, Gordon Brown, a renowned kayaker and Emmy Award®-winning cinematographer who is one of few people to have kayaked through extreme whitewater rapids with the giant IMAX® camera rigged to his kayak; Dr. Mohamed Megahed, one of Egypt’s top hydrologists who has come to study the changing environmental reality of the river that is so important to his country and family; Saskia Lange, a journalist who is compelled by the human and spiritual dimensions of the journey; Myriam Seco, an Spanish archaeologist sometimes dubbed “the female Indiana Jones” who leads the team on visits to the region’s pyramids; and Michel L’Hullier, an adventure photographer hoping to capture the spirit of the river and its people with his camera lens.

With the dazzling immediacy of large format photography, MYSTERY OF THE NILE brings the expedition’s bold voyage to life with unmistakable realism. Audiences will feel like they are riding shotgun on the team’s 16-foot rafts as they crash through the rapids in Ethiopia’s remote desert canyons. They will feel the intense heat as the team traverses the desert plains of Sudan on their way to Khartoum where the Blue Nile merges with the White Nile to form the Nile proper. They will witness the human struggle inherent in such an arduous journey and watch as the crew overcomes feelings of fear and frustration. But more than just a chronicle of a groundbreaking expedition, MYSTERY OF THE NILE also reveals a wondrous region that is host to abundant historical, cultural and natural treasures, where a connection to the ancient past informs our understanding of the rapidly changing future.

“The Nile is the most magnificent river in the world,” said Scaturro, who has written a book about the expedition with co-author Richard Bangs (Mystery of the Nile published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons). “No other river can compare. And no other river in the world is as closely associated with a particular culture and society as is the Nile. Without the Nile there would be no Egypt, no pharaohs, no pyramids. ”

Adds producer Greg MacGillivray: “The expedition down the Blue Nile and Nile will fill audiences with awe. Pasquale and his team overcame enormous hurdles to complete their bold mission. It reminds me of the almost insurmountable challenges our EVEREST team faced in 1996. As with that film, MYSTERY OF THE NILE brings back to the rest of us a very human, very moving story about determination and cooperation, all through the visceral realism of IMAX photography.”

At the heart of MYSTERY OF THE NILE lies the Blue Nile itself, the main artery of the Nile river, which cuts a vital, life-sustaining path from the remote, rugged highlands of Ethiopia through the unexpected beauty of war-torn Sudan and on into modern Egypt, where the river spills into the Mediterranean Sea at Alexandria. Today, most Westerners associate the Nile with pyramids, Pharaohs and the ancient Egyptians – with good reason. It was the Egyptians who first dubbed the Nile “The River of Life” and revered its annual floodwaters as a god due to its seemingly mystical powers of providing everything they needed. Without the Nile, and especially its annual summer floods, the rise of ancient Egypt’s advanced civilization, which lasted for more than 3,000 years, would have been impossible.

But the Egyptians were just one of many kingdoms in the region that would come to rely on the Nile for sustenance and power.
MYSTERY OF THE NILE also explores the equally mystifying relics of the lesser-known Nubian kingdoms, who created their own spectacular black pyramids at Meroe in Sudan, and the early Christian churches carved out of sheer rock by 12th century Coptics in the sacred Ethiopian city of Lalibela.

MYSTERY OF THE NILE producer/director Jordi Llompart: “This film will truly surprise audiences because it visits an area we see over and over on the news as a place of war, poverty, famine, suffering and danger. Yet this film brings an alternate, unexpected view of the region’s tremendous beauty, its rich historical achievement and a deeply felt connection between Westerners and the people of the Nile region. ”

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Expedition Dispatches