Mariana van Zeller
Mariana van Zeller is an award-winning journalist and correspondent for National Geographic’s Explorer series. Mariana began her journalism career in her native Portugal, where she was a producer and correspondent for SIC Televisão, the nation’s largest private news channel. In 2001, Mariana moved to New York to attend Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. A month into the program, she was reporting live back to Europe on the events of 9/11.
In 2003, Mariana went undercover to report on Syrian mujahideen crossing into Iraq to fight against the US invasion. The story captured the first signs of what would be a growing insurgency. It was also Mariana’s first collaboration with her producing partner and now husband Darren Foster.
Mariana has since camped out in the Amazon jungle to cover the battle between Brazil’s Indians and miners over South America’s largest diamond mine, rode the Death Train to report on the desperate risks Central American migrants take to reach the US and snuck into the swamps of Nigeria to meet with militants fighting for control of the country’s oil wealth.
In 2011, Mariana received the prestigious Livingston Award for Young Journalists for her report “Rape on the Reservation,” which exposed the increased incidence of rape and sexual violence on American Indian reservations. And her documentary on prescription drug abuse and pill trafficking, “The OxyContin Express,” was honored with a 2009 Peabody Award, a Television Academy Honor and an Emmy nomination. The film was the first undercover investigation of Florida’s “pill mills” and several of those featured in the piece later became the target of a Federal racketeering investigation that led to the prosecution of dozens of doctors and owners, along with the closing of over 400 pain clinics in Florida. ”The OxyContin Express” is now used in the training of law enforcement and medical professionals nationwide.
Mariana’s work has appeared on PBS, CNN, CBS, Channel 4 (UK), Current TV and the CBC. She’s fluent in Portuguese, English, Spanish, Italian and French.
Darren Foster is a Peabody Award-winning documentary producer and director. He produced his latest films for National Geographic. Guerilla Gold Rush looks at how gold has become the new cocaine in Colombia, supporting all sides of the 50-year conflict. American Escort is an undercover look at the underground network and gray market that supports the billion-dollar escort industry.
A print reporter by training, Darren first picked up a camera in 2003 for an undercover report on Syrian mujahideen crossing into Iraq to fight against the US invasion. Since then, he’s produced and directed dozens of films that have led him deep into to the swamps of Nigeria looking for oil rebels, even deeper into the Amazon in search of the fabled Kambo frog and right into his own backyard to report on the takeover of California’s marijuana trade by Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations, during which he was the first to film an assault and arrest of growers in the Sierras.
Darren was a founding member and senior producer of the critically acclaimed documentary series “Vanguard” on Current TV. He, along with his wife and producing partner Mariana van Zeller, piloted the series’ first one-hour show, The OxyContin Express, which received a 2009 Peabody Award, a Television Academy Honor and an Emmy nomination. The film was the first undercover investigation of Florida’s “pill mills” and several of the pain clinics featured in the piece later became the target of a Federal racketeering investigation that led to the prosecution of dozens of doctors and owners, along with the closing of over 400 pain clinics in Florida. “The OxyContin Express” is now used in the training of law enforcement and medical professionals nationwide.
In 2007, Darren directed Current’s content for Live Earth, the worldwide benefit concert organized by former Vice President and Current co-founder Al Gore. He produced several other specials for Current – both in the studio and in the field -- including the central piece in Current’s 2008 Election coverage, Obama’s Army, which provided an inside look at youth participation in the Obama campaign. The piece won a 2009 Webby Award.
Darren is also the co-founder of Muck Media, a production company that currently has two series in development for major cable channels. His work has appeared on PBS, CNN, CBS, Channel 4 (UK), the CBC and Current TV. He has an MS from Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism. Born and raised in New York, he now lives in Los Angeles.