The UK's FilmFour and the Film Council's New Cinema Fund have boarded Touching The Void, a new feature documentary from Oscar-winning director Kevin Macdonald.

The film, which starts production in Peru on July 22 and continues shooting in the Alps in September, tells the true survival story of two mountaineers - Joe Simpson and Simon Yates - who met with disaster on a 1985 climb in a remote part of the Peruvian Andes.

On their descent from the west face of Siula Grande, a mountain with a 21,000ft peak, Simpson fell and shattered his leg. Touching The Void sees Simpson and Yates returning to Siula Grande together for the first time, and is based on Simpson's bestseller about the experience.

The film is produced by John Smithson of independent UK production company Darlow Smithson. Additional pre-sale financing comes from the UK's Channel 4 Television and from PBS in the US.

Macdonald won the Best Documentary Oscar in 2000, as well as an Emmy, for One Day In September, about the terrorist attack on the Israeli team at the 1972 Olympic games in Munich. Macdonald has also directed films about underground film-maker Donald Cammell and, more recently, Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger.

Co-producer Sue Summers brokered the rights acquisition of the book for Darlow Smithson, and the project was co-developed with Channel 4 International. It was brought to FilmFour by Charles Furneaux at Channel 4's Science and Education Department. Robin Gutch will executive produce for FilmFour.

"This is a highly unusual project, an awe-inspiring real-life story," said Paul Webster, chief executive of FilmFour. "Although the body is that of documentary, its heart beats pure cinema."

Said Kevin Macdonald: "FilmFour's decision to get behind the film is a great vote of confidence not only in this project but in the future of non-fiction cinema on the big screen".

Worldwide sales for the film are being handled by FilmFour International and it will be distributed in the UK by FilmFour Distributors.