During a brief visit to Zanskar to set up BEHIND THE ICE WALL, an early snowfall stranded Peter for over three months, with no outside contact.
PETER GETZELS is a multiple Emmy nominated and award-winning documentary director, producer and cinematographer, noted for high-concept, cutting-edge films which have been distributed around the world. A seasoned filmmaker of observational narratives, Peter has spent an entire winter in the Himalayan villages of Ladakh; hunted and sledded with the Inuit at the top of Greenland; and kayaked from North to South along the coast of Vietnam. Working in over 35 countries, he’s filmed in war zones, among hill tribes in Southeast Asia, on ships in the South Pacific and up on some of the world’s highest peaks.
Currently, Peter is Owner, Executive Producer, Director, and Writer at Getzels Gordon Productions, an independent production company in Washington, DC where he’s leading a team in the production of an ambitious 117 episode science series for PBS on Cosmology, Consciousness and God, with Robert Lawrence Kuhn.
Prior to that Getzels was a staff producer at National Geographic where he series-produced a high-definition, four-part series on ancient Egypt which premiered to high ratings. Peter also directed, shot and wrote a number of award-winning documentaries for the flagship series Explorer, including an Emmy-winning film on a major expedition led by Bob Ballard of Titanic fame, in search of the wreck of President Kennedy’s PT109 boat. Peter also helped develop a number of high profile ideas, such as the long-running series called Taboo.
Prior to joining National Geographic Peter, along with his partner Harriet Gordon, headed an independent company in England, where they produced, shot and wrote award-winning, documentaries for BBC, Channel 4, ZDF, Canal+, the Discovery Channel and more. Getzels Gordon specialized in long-term, observational films plus science and adventure. For two years, Peter worked in the BBC Science Department, producing for the highly-rated series, Supernatural Science, the first large-scale co-production between Discovery and the BBC.
Getzels comes to filmmaking as an anthropologist, explorer, and mountaineer. A prolific climber, he originated and guided climbing itineraries for the American Alpine Institute. In South America he has scaled nearly every major peak, as well as participated on three expeditions to major peaks in the Himalayas. He’s also explored numerous tributaries of the Amazon, and sea kayaked both the coast of Tierra del Fuego in Patagonia, and the coast of North Vietnam.
Many of his films draw on his ability to explore the most extreme regions on earth – including the Emmy-nominated Into the Lost World, where new species were discovered on the mysterious tepuis of Guyana; and Behind the Ice Wall, about Tibetan children on an epic ice journey during winter in the Himalayas. As a noted young anthropologist, Getzels conducted fieldwork in the Peruvian Andes, Ladakh, and Greenland, having won a prestigious Watson fellowship, as well as an NEH grant.
Getzels did his PhD work in Anthropology at the London School of Economics, and has an MFA from the National Film and Television School of England. He is a member of the film committee of the Royal Anthropological Institute as well as a founding member of the South American Explorers Club. He’s been an undergraduate Teaching Fellow in Comparative Religions, and taught documentary filmmaking at the Ecole Nationale Superieure La Femis in Paris. Getzels has shown his films and lectured in the US and England. In 2010, working with crews from China Central Television, Peter spent five months producing and directing a landmark series about Shanghai Expo with Dr. Robert Lawrence Kuhn.