Les Guthman
 Director, Producer, Writer, Editor                                                                                                              


(2019)  The thrilling inside story of NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC's top "Scientific Discovery of the Decade," the discovery of gravitational waves from deep space, 2015-1017, which opened up the 95% of the universe that has been dark to our existing observatories and space telescopes.  It's the violent "warped side" of the universe described by Einstein -- colliding black holes and crashing neutron stars -- never seen before LIGO detected this remnant and messenger from the first observed cataclysmic collision of two black holes.

Guthman witnessed and filmed this dramatic and emotional peak in the lives of the 1,000 rebel scientists around the world who risked their careers on a 50-year, $1 billion search. The discovery earned the film's three principal characters, Kip Thorne, Rai Weiss and Barry Barish, an immediate 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics, an enchanting week in Stockholm that became the documentary's finale.  

LIGO begins innocently as Guthman and his crew arrive at the LIGO Livingston Observatory outside Baton Rouge in September 2015.  Then almost immediately they are swept up in one of the great human experiences in recent history, scientific or otherwise, lasting and filmed over two years.  And one that revolutionized our understanding of the universe.

(2002)   The first documentary in English about Reinhold Messner, the world’s greatest mountain climber, since Werner Herzog's The Dark Glow of the Mountains in 1984.  Messner was an Opening Night selection of the 2004 Mountainfilm in Telluride 

"Messner's solo climb of Everest is a deed widely regarded as the greatest mountaineering feat of all time."  
-- Jon Krakauer 

Distributed on Amazon Prime Video.

(1998)  Les Guthman's winning film in the National Academy of Science's nationwide contest to find the best new idea in science television.  John Lithgow opens the film in his character "Dick" from Third Rock From the Sun, hosting Guthman's week at the Keck Observatory in Hawaii during which three of America's leading astronomy teams were at work - The Planet Hunters, who had just located the second exo-planet; Dr. Charles Telesco, whose discovery of the "missing link" in solar system evolution had recently been on the cover of NEWSWEEK magazine; and Dr. Chuck Steidel of Caltech, who was locating the most distant galaxies in the universe.  

On Vimeo.


From the Hudson River in New York to Santa Monica Bay in Los Angeles, from the Neuse River in North Carolina to the Cook Inlet in Alaska, the Willamette River and Puget Sound in the Pacific Northwest, The Waterkeepers gives a dramatic chronicle of the 40-year battle to clean up America's rivers, bays and oceans. 

In 2010, Guthman edited The Waterkeepers and The Hudson Riverkeepers (below) into one feature documentary, which premiered at the DC Environmental Film Festival on the 10th and 12th anniversaries of The Waterkeepers and The Hudson Riverkeepers showings at the festival.  

Distributed on Amazon Prime Video.

(2010)  Skiing Everest is the first documentary about the small elite fraternity of high-altitude skiers who climb the highest peaks in the world in pure Alpine style, carrying their skis and declining to use supplemental oxygen. At the top of the world, high in the Death Zone, they lock into their skis and challenge the most dangerous slopes in the world - under weather conditions that are as perilous as the thin air, hidden crevasses, and 10,000 ft. sheer faces that drop into Nepal and Tibet far below.

"This film will make you hold hour breath again and again.  Skiing Everest is something most of us, mere mortals, will never get to do, and yet, the Marolts figured out how to take us with them.  What a gift!”

— Robert Redford

Filmed around the world, it features skiers Mike Marolt, who was also director of photography, Steve Marolt, Hans Kammerlander, Chris Davenport, Laura Bokas, Mark Newcomb and the late Fredrik Ericsson (who died the following year skiing on K2).   Skiing Everest was licensed by ESPN in 2011 for broadcast in the United States and Europe.  It was converted to 3D in 2012.  

"There’s no denying the beauty of the locales the brothers visit on their far-flung expeditions, and when combined with snappy editing and very capable technical specs, pic is a very vivid and high-caliber travelogue." -- Variety    

Distributed on Amazon Prime Video.

The epic first whitewater descent of the "Everest of Rivers" - the Tsangpo Gorge in Tibet - the last great adventure prize left on Earth.  Seven young kayakers take on the most feared whitewater in the world, plunging through a gorge 18,000 ft. deep, three times deeper than the Grand Canyon.  Premiered on NBC Sports.  One of Mens Journal magazine's "Top 20 Adventure Films of All Time."

Distributed on Amazon Prime Video.

(2006)  Churning the Sea of Time: A Journey Up the Mekong to Angkor premiered at Lincoln Center in April 2006.  It was an official selection of the Museum of Modern Art's "Directors Fortnight Expanded" in 2007 and was shown at the Royal Geographical Society in London, the Smithsonian in Washington, DC; and the Asia Society in New York, among other featured screenings.

One of the most mythic and potent journeys of our time, up the Mekong River through the exquisite, complicated terrain of Vietnam and Cambodia to the great ruins at Angkor - the magnificent Khmer temples built from the 9th-13th centuries AD that are being painstakingly restored deep in the Cambodian jungle.  Director Les Guthman travels by boat up a river whose raw beauty and power were celebrated by Marguerite Duras in the 1920s.  But in our time it became known as "the river of evil memory" as it coursed through Southeast Asia in the second half of the 20th century.  Today, the river in Vietnam is filled with the vibrant life of a young nation free of a century of war.  In Cambodia the past weighs far heavier.  We travel up the Mekong passed Phnom Penh, once called "the beguiling beauty of SE Asia," toward the Laotian border in search of the almost-extinct fresh water dolphins of the Mekong; then return back to the capital and head northwest up one of the world's unique natural wonders, the Tonle Sap River, and across the great Tonle Sap Lake, one of the planet's most abundant fisheries.  In Angkor, World Monuments Fund experts describe their 15-year restoration of one of the jewels of a city called "the eighth wonder of the world."  And as they take us on an insider's tour of Angkor, we learn that the story of their work there is not only a story of the rebirth of Angkor after the horrors of the Khmer Rouge Era, but it is also a story of the rebirth of Cambodia.  A stunningly filmed odyssey up a river far distanced in time from the corridor into the heart of darkness portrayed in Francis Coppola's "Apocalypse Now."   

Distributed on Amazon Prime Video.

(2012)   Written and co-produced by Dr. Carolyn Porco, head of the Cassini Mission's digital imaging team, Saturn's Embrace tells the story of the spectacular mission to Saturn and its moons, in her own words.  Lakes on Saturn's largest moon, Titan.  Salt water geysers on Enceladus.  These are only two of the amazing discoveries.  Dr. Porco takes us on a thrilling tour.  We fly over Titan, glide through the mists of Enceladus, and wonder whether life hasn't already emerged in their watery depths.   

Distributed on Amazon Prime Video.

(1998) The Hudson Riverkeepers tells the stirring and dramatic story of how two generations of Hudson River fishermen and environmental activists fought a decades-long battle to protect one of the nation's great rivers, the Hudson.  Including excerpts from Walter Cronkite's classic 1965 documentary, "The Majestic Polluted Hudson,"  this important film brings to life one of the great environmental achievements in American history.  It is also the story of the one of the landmarks in the U.S. environmental movement -- because the fight to clean up the Hudson River went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and its favorable ruling helped paved the way for many of the great environmental laws passed in the 1970s, such as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act. 

"Beautifully photographed and delicately edited, the film uses the history of environmental activism on the Hudson to show how individuals can have a real impact on their communities, especially when they coalesce into clear-thinking groups backed by the force of law."   
-- Erik Mink, New York Daily News. 

Distributed on Amazon Prime Video..

(1996)  Norman Corwin was the legendary writer, producer and director during the Golden Age of Radio.  CORWIN was licensed by WNET in New York and aired on PBS.  KCET in Los Angeles picked up the license in 1999. Actor Charles Laughton, in the early 1940s, is quoted in the film as saying, "There is no actor in Hollywood or on Broadway, who would not drop what he is doing to be in one of Norman Corwin's radio plays. We all look up to him as a writer of the highest caliber and one of the most important writers in America today."    

The Hollywood Reporter in its review of CORWIN wrote, 'When you peruse the cultural landscape, there are not that many folks who have achieved the acclamation of national treasure.'   

When Norman Corwin died at the age of 102, KCET, then the PBS station in Los Angeles, headlined its prime time tribute to him with a showing of CORWIN  (KCET Media Release, Oct. 21, 2011)

Distributed on Amazon Prime Video.

(2000)   One of the best-known and most grueling ultramarathons in the world, Morocco's Marathon of the Sands (also known as Marathon des Sables or the Sands Marathon) is comprised of six torturous races across 150 miles of burning sands in the Sahara Desert. The race (the equivalent of six standard marathons) spans seven days and includes "Dune Day," which wends through the Sahara's highest dunes. More than 700 competitors come from around the world in the Men's and Women's Divisions. In this 14th edition of the race, American Lisa Smith defends her title in the Women's Division. The Men's Division is lead by the amazing Ahansal brothers, who grew up in the remote Saharan town of Zagora.  

Distributed on Vimeo.


(2003)   Co-written with director Jim Norton, "The Yunnan Great Rivers Expedition" is the film of his stunning white water expedition, sponsored by the Nature Conservancy, down the upper Mekong, Yangtze and Salween rivers in the steep, rugged corner of Yunnan along China's border with Tibet.  Narrated by Edward Norton.

Distributed on Amazon Prime Video.

(2000)  For more than two decades, environmentalists have come to Belize to try out new strategies to protect its pristine rain forests and rich biodiversity from the same economic threats - poverty and rampant economic exploitation - that continue to ravage so much of the Amazon Basin in Brazil and Peru. In this pioneering film, journey deep into this fragile paradise to look at two of the most ambitious - and most endangered - of these cutting-edge experiments: a multi-village cooperative to create a vast Howler Monkey preserve with the goal of protecting its habitat, while providing a thriving Eco-tourism economy; and a manatee sanctuary on the Belizian coast to protect the manatee and the critically endangered Hawksbill turtle, where it was human nature that became the greatest and most unexpected threat.   We also go on a magical trek by horseback through the magnificent Slate Creek rainforest preserve on Belize's rugged border with Guatemala. All three projects are models for how fragile ecosystems can be protected anywhere in the world, while enriching the lives of the local people.   Narrated by NPR's Warren Olney.

Distributed on Vimeo

(2004)  From rafting Bujagali Falls on the White Nile to kayaking Glacier Bay in a sublime September, Ten Adventures of a Lifetime takes you around the world on ten great adventures -- climbing the Grand Teton peak in Wyoming, rafting the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho, snorkeling Turkey's incomparable Turquoise Coast, kayaking the Greek Island jewel, Patmos ,and heli-skiing in Alaska, among the others.  Hosted by Jacqueline Anderson.

(2001)  Will Gadd, holder of the world paragliding record for distance, leads the first paraglide expedition attempting to cross the United States from coast to coast, California to North Carolina.  An epic six-week thrill ride at altitudes as high as 17,000 ft., never knowing where they would land and what they would find on the ground, and always captive to the winds, storms and thermals.