SUNSHINE SUPERMAN, the immersive love story of Carl and Jean Boenish, the husband and wife team who invented BASE jumping – and their devotion to the freedom and beauty of foot-launched human flight – will make its global television premiere on CNN/U.S. Sunday, Jan. 17 at 9:00pm and 12:00am Eastern. The CNN Films broadcast will be presented with limited commercial interruption by Volkswagen.
Carl Boenish, a trained electrical engineer and experienced skydiver, as well as an innovator of film techniques and film technology, zealously chronicled the pioneering days of BASE in the early 1980’s in exquisitely beautiful 16mm film. Boenish sometimes mounted cameras to his head and the heads of his small band of fellow fliers in order to document a bird’s-eye view of their jumps. Director, writer, and producer Marah Strauch interweaves this archival footage along with new photography and reenacted events (recreated from the Boenishes’ personal audio diary recordings), for a visually stunning feature film debut. Strauch and producer / editor Eric Bruggemann, develop an intimate portrait of the Boenishes as risk-takers who passionately loved both each other and BASE.
BASE, which stands for “building,” “antenna,” “span,” and “earth” was, in its experimental early days, initially opposed by the U.S. Parachute Association. Those first jumps also brought inquisitive fame and attention to the novel sport – along with a risk of arrest. Phil Smith (BASE #1, the first person to ever successfully complete a series of jumps from all four types of objects – in Houston, TX), Phil Mayfield (BASE #2), and the Boenishes (BASE #3 and #4), describe first-person accounts in the film, adding insight into their preparation and collective genius. They also vividly recall their frustrations with the legal obstacles to their adventures, taking viewers on a thrilling emotional ride of beauty and suspense. Cameos of Phil Donahue, Pat Sajak, and Kathie Lee Johnson (later Gifford) yield a glimpse into the excitement of the followers and fans of BASE that some found difficult to understand.
At the pinnacle of Carl’s and Jean’s extraordinary achievements, they together broke the BASE jumping Guinness World Record in 1984 by jumping from Trollveggen, ‘Troll Wall,’ along the western coast of Norway’s Trolltindene mountain range. Incredibly, within hours, that astonishing triumph was followed by heartbreaking disaster.
“We want to feel like we’re astronauts walking on the Moon… .it just gives us a feeling of power, and of joy. And, we want to share it with the world… ,” says Carl Boenish in the film, describing the allure and exhilaration of BASE.
SUNSHINE SUPERMAN had its world premiere at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival and was produced by Scissor Kick Films, Flimmer Films, and Submarine Entertainment. It was executive produced by Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney and was exhibited nationally by Magnolia Pictures and internationally by Universal Pictures.