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Nail-biting climbing film Free Solo won best documentary at the Oscars last month


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Free Solo became the first ever film about climbing to receive a prestigious Oscar for best Documentary Feature last month.

The hit documentary is about Alex Honnold's climb of El Capitan's Freerider, a vertical rock formation situated in Yosemite Park, California. Honnold attempts to be the first solo climber of El Capitan, which stands at 900 metres.

Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, directors of the film, also picked up the best documentary award at the BAFTAS earlier in February.


In the film's opening five months, it grossed just short of $20m at the box office. Accepting the award, Chai Vasarhelyi said: "Thank you. Thank you. Thank you National Geographic for believing in us, and for hiring women and people of color, because we only help make the films better."

Free Solo managed to stave off competition from Hale County This Morning, This Evening, Minding The Gap, Of Fathers and Sons and RBG. The film has been screened in numerous cinemas and at various events across the world.

In a Q&A session, Chin talked about the unglamorous side of climbing: "Rock climbing is so... non-Hollywood, so I would like to know what it was like to be here.

Image Credit: National Geographic

"I mean, it's completely surreal. We've spent most of our lives climbing in the various wild landscapes around the world, and to be kind of embraced in this community... we feel like interlopers, but it's been amazing. I think that it's because we threw our hearts into making this film. The high angle team — we know what heart is about because we climb, because we love it, and we are passionate about it, and we are passionate about the wild places we go, and I think that that's reflected in the film, and I think that's why people embrace the film."

Star of the solo climb, Honnold lives in a world far away from Hollywood: "When I free soloed El Cap and all my friends texted me saying how impressed they were by the climb - that means more to me in a lot of ways than recognition for the film,” he said.

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What a way to finally end the @freesolofilm tour! We won an Oscar!! Technically, @sannimccandless and I didn’t win anything since we were only the subjects of the film. But we kept the awesome envelope anyway :) The actual Oscars go to directors @chaivasarhelyi and @jimmychin and producers @peconic21 and Shannon Dill. They each did an incredible job in helping to craft Free Solo into the Best Documentary of the year! Of course there’s an enormous team of talented people who worked on the film (many of whom I got to hug last night and celebrate with). I guess I just want to say thank you to everyone who worked on the film. And thank you to everyone who’s watched and enjoyed the film. It’s been a wild ride. Thanks.

A post shared by Alex Honnold (@alexhonnold) on

The story started in June 2017 when Honnold remarkably climbed the Freerider route of El Capitan in 3 hours and 56 minutes. This climb has been celebrated world-wide by both climbers and non-climbers. The film gives a detailed insight into the intense preparation that Honnold undertook before attempting the climb and the chaotic emotions that he felt throughout the process.

The film was hailed for its production with a fly on the wall style opted for, rather than a heavy interaction based over dramatic production.

For more information click here.

Lead Image Credit: National Geographic


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