Free Solo, the documentary film of Alex Honnold's historic solo of Freerider on El Capitan has won the Best Documentary Award at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards, or BAFTAs. Directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin and produced by National Geographic, the 100-minute film has so far accrued a total worldwide gross of $18.4 million, having screened in numerous cinemas and at events worldwide.
The BAFTAs are widely recognised as the most prestigious film and TV awards in the UK. It's not the first climbing/mountaineering film to win a BAFTA, however - Touching the Void won Best British Film at the 2004 BAFTA Awards. Free Solo is also nominated for an Oscar, so watch this space...
On 3rd June 2017, Alex Honnold stunned the climbing and non-climbing world alike with his free solo ascent of Freerider 5.12d. He climbing the 3,000ft granite big wall in just 3 hours and 56 minutes. Alex's achievement has since been lauded as one of the most impressive ascents in the history of climbing - if not the most impressive - and has received significant mainstream media coverage alongside the feature film of the ascent. Free Solo has also scooped multiple awards at mountain film festivals across the globe, including Grand Prize at Kendal Mountain Festival 2018 and Best Climbing Film at the 2018 Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival in Canada.
The film delves into Alex's physical, technical and mental preparation behind performing his solo feat and explores the complex emotions faced by his friends and family. Filmmakers Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin discussed whether involving cameras in Alex's solo attempt at Freerider would become a dangerous distraction. Instead, they decided on a vérité style of filmmaking; fly on the wall with minimal interaction.
Free Solo will be released on NatGeo TV on 3rd March.
Best Documentary BAFTA - Nominees
Winner - FREE SOLO - Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin, Shannon Dill, Evan Hayes
McQUEEN - Ian Bonhôte, Peter Ettedgui
RBG Julie Cohen - Betsy West
THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD - Peter Jackson, Clare Olssen
THREE IDENTICAL STRANGERS - Tim Wardle, Grace Hughes-Hallett, Becky Read
Watch an NYTimes film about the ethical considerations made by the filmmakers: