Oscar-Winning Filmmaker to Chronicle Anthony Bourdain’s Life in New Documentary

Anthony Bourdain has been gone over a year, but the impact he made speaks volumes. His award-winning show, Parts Unknown, brought a taste of different cultures to viewers’ living rooms. Now, a feature documentary is in the works to chronicle Bourdain’s life and career.

Anthony Bourdain’s legacy lives on in the new documentary

Anthony Bourdain
Anthony Bourdain visits the Build Series to discuss “Raw Craft” | Mike Pont/WireImage

Bourdain was a celebrated chef, writer, and host who traveled to more than 100 countries over three networks. The CNN series (Parts Unknown) won an impressive 12-season run with 36 Emmy nominations and 12 wins.

Bourdain also served as executive producer on the 2016 documentary Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent.

His ability to connect different cultures and cuisines around the world made Bourdain an irreplaceable part of the entertainment industry. He even shared a meal with former President, Barack Obam, in Vietnam, as shown on Parts Unknown.

Obama Tweeted about it after learning of Bourdain’s passing.

“‘Low plastic stool, cheap but delicious noodles, cold Hanoi beer.’ This is how I’ll remember Tony,” he posted. “He taught us about food — but more importantly, about its ability to bring us together. To make us a little less afraid of the unknown. We’ll miss him.”

Bourdain was an advocate for safer working conditions in restaurants and marginalized communities, garnering him multiple awards such as the 2013 Peabody Award.

“He’s irreverent, honest, curious, never condescending, never obsequious,” the judges said. “People open up to him and, in doing so, often reveal more about their hometowns or homelands than a traditional reporter could hope to document.”

Bourdain’s response to his Peabody was an explanation about why Parts Unknown was a necessary contribution.

“We ask very simple questions: What makes you happy? What do you eat? What do you like to cook? And everywhere in the world we go and ask these very simple questions,” he said. “We tend to get some really astonishing answers.”

Who’s behind the Anthony Bourdain documentary?

The award-winning director taking on the project is Morgan Neville. He’s the guy who created 20 Feet from Stardom and last year’s Won’t You Be My Neighbor?.

The documentary will be released through Focus Features in theaters before its TV debut on CNN, and HBO Max. It will include home movies, photos, and personal anecdotes about the life and career of the beloved “misfit” chef.

“Anthony Bourdain did more to help us understand each other than just about anyone in the history of television. He connected with people not in spite of his flaws, but because of them. To have the opportunity to tell his story is humbling,” Neville said in a statement.

He continued: “CNN is in the DNA of Tony’s work, and the perfect partners in this journey. I’m thrilled to be reteaming with Focus Features after our journey on Won’t You Be My Neighbor?. I am also happy that HBO Max will make sure Tony’s audience only continues to grow.”

Focus Features chairman, Peter Kujawski, and CNN Films’ Amy Entelis added their excitement.

“We are thrilled that Morgan will bring his singular voice to this film, revealing what we loved so much about Tony,” Entelis said.

“Morgan is the top of the game when it comes to documentary filmmaking and we’re delighted to be working with him again on this project with our great collaborators at CNN Films and HBO Max,” Kujawski added.   

Anthony Bourdain’s death extended the dialogue about mental health

The sudden and tragic passing of Bourdain left a hole in many fans’ hearts. His June 2018 death was later confirmed a suicide, igniting conversations about mental health.

Bourdain was in France at his time of death, working on an episode of Parts Unknown. His best friend, chef, Eric Ripert, tweeted after finding Bourdain unresponsive.

“Anthony was my best friend,” he said. “An exceptional human being, so inspiring & generous. One of the great storytellers who connected w so many. I pray he is at peace from the bottom of my heart. My love and prayers are also with his family, friends and loved ones.”

Soon after, CNN released a statement saying, “His talents never ceased to amaze us and we will miss him very much. Our thoughts and prayers are with his daughter and family at this incredibly difficult time.”

Fans around the world still continue to express their grief, proving the impact Bourdain had — a life lived to the fullest yet gone too soon.

How to get help: In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Or text HOME to 741-741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor at the free Crisis Text Line.