Guest blogger Andy Streitfeld is owner and CEO of Dallas-based AMS Pictures. He sends along the following post:
Last year, I met an ordinary man who did a very extraordinary thing. His name is Nando Parrado, and he’s the hero of the “Miracle of the Andes,” the story of the 1972 Uruguayan plane crash most famously chronicled in the book Alive. On the verge of starvation and exposed to incredibly brutal conditions, Parrado and his teammate Roberto Canessa trekked for 10 days across 15,000 foot peaks to seek rescue for the 14 others who had survived the crash and its horrific aftermath. Telling Parrado’s personal story in a documentary I am making has led to one of the most profound experiences of my long career.
To better understand his ordeal, in January I journeyed to Argentina’s Valley of Tears, the remote, forbidding, and starkly beautiful glacial valley where 29 people died and survivors were trapped among the wreckage for 72 hellish days. The purpose of my trip was two-fold; I certainly needed to extensively film the site for the documentary, but, just as importantly, I wanted to get a visceral feeling of what it was like to be imprisoned among the jagged peaks.
Despite incredible suffering and many innocent lives lost— including those of Parrado’s sister and mother — what ultimately emerges is not a tale of horror, as it’s been told before. Instead, Parrado weaves a sublime narrative of fraternity and brotherhood, the instinct to survive, and, perhaps most importantly, the overriding redemptive power of human love in its many forms.
People wonder whether as CEO of a large company it’s such a wise idea to leave my desk and trek to the Andes to tell a story. I say it’s not just another story — it’s a lesson in life from an extraordinary, ordinary man.
I Am Alive: Nando Parrado’s Story will be finished in late summer; a broadcast deal is in the works.