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Netflix to Develop Biopic ‘True Spirit’ on Teen Who Sailed the World Solo

Sarah Spillane to direct and co-write screenplay based on memoir of Australian 16-year-old Jessica Watson

Netflix is developing a feature film called “True Spirit” based on the life of Australian sailor Jessica Watson, who at age 16 became the youngest person to sail around the world solo.

Sarah Spillane will direct and co-wrote the screenplay with Cathy Randall based on Watson’s memoir “True Spirit,” in which she described her 2009 non-stop, unassisted journey around the world for 210 days while only a teenager.

Watson had self-filmed a documentary called “210 Days: Around the World With Jessica Watson,” which was released in 2010 and narrated by Sir Richard Branson. Watson will consult on the Netflix biopic.

“Harriet” and “The Princess Diaries” producer Debra Martin Chase will produce for Martin Chase Productions along with Andrew Fraser for Sunstar Entertainment. Executive producers on “True Spirit” are Shahen Mekertichian for Sunstar Entertainment and Spillane.

Watson on her trip around the globe navigated some of the world’s most challenging stretches of ocean and survived seven knockdowns while at sea. When she sailed back to Sydney Harbour on completion of the voyage, she was met by the Australian prime minister at her home and was declared an Australian hero, being awarded the Order of Australian medal in 2012 for service to sailing as a young role model. She was also named Young Australian of the Year in 2011.

However, in a simple speech, Watson said that she didn’t consider herself a hero, only an “ordinary person who had a dream, worked hard at it and proved that anything really is possible.”

“I am honored and excited to be charged with bringing Jessica’s extraordinary journey to screen. What drew me to Jessica’s story is her relentless fight and determination to defy the odds and accomplish her dream in a world that is largely dominated by men, making her a source of inspiration for so many people, especially young women, across the globe,” Spillane said in a statement.

“It’s quite humbling to have Netflix bring my story to life. I hope that the film inspires people around the world to try sailing and to also pursue their own adventures. I’m thrilled that it will be directed by Sarah and supported by such a strong production team,” Watson said in a statement.