Free Solo wins Best Documentary Feature Oscar

Free Solo, the documentary film of Alex Honnold's historic solo of Freerider on El Capitan has won a Best Documentary Feature Oscar at the 91st Academy Awards in Hollywood. 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.

Free Solo has racked up a series of major film awards since its premiere in Telluride last year, including a Best Documentary Film BAFTA (UKC news) and an Eddie Award from the American Cinema Editors Guild Awards. One climbing/mountaineering film has previously been nominated for an Oscar: Solo, directed by Mike Hoover in 1973. This is the first time that a climbing/mountainering film has received what is widely regarded as the highest honour in filmmaking.

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.

Documentary (Feature) Oscar



Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin, Evan Hayes and Shannon Dill



RaMell Ross, Joslyn Barnes and Su Kim


Bing Liu and Diane Quon


Talal Derki, Ansgar Frerich, Eva Kemme and Tobias N. Siebert


Betsy West and Julie Cohen

Watch the Free Solo team's acceptance speech below:

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Alex Honnold is a professional rock climber whose audacious free-solo ascents of America’s biggest cliffs have made him one of the most recognised and followed climbers in the world. A gifted but hard-working...

Alex's Athlete Page 26 posts 12 videos

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25 Feb, 2019

An interesting alternative view. Not sure if this has been posted before. The violent subjugation of indigenous people is a significant part of American History and will shape perspectives on how the land is used.

25 Feb, 2019
25 Feb, 2019

What a strange post to make on this news story. There may well be an excellent documentary to be made about the history of Yosemite valley in terms of its indigenous people. But Free Solo is not a documentary on that, nor is it intended to be a history lesson. It is a documentary on somebody soloing, for the first time, what most rock-climbers would consider the most iconic wall on earth; and the effects that act had on the human relationships of the protagonist.

The article you link to may have an interesting point somewhere, but I'm afraid I couldn't wade through it; the first few paragraphs came over as try-too-hard, over-intelectualized dross.

25 Feb, 2019

Good grief. First response to the story. You going to piss on his chips too?

25 Feb, 2019

Great news, although it will probably confirm the general public's view that we're all suicidal psychos.

I though the feminist viewpoint was trying too hard to see it through its own particular prism. I thought the film was brutally honest in depicting Honnold's personality. He didn't appear to me to be mysogynist, as he treats everyone, male and female, the same, although his girlfriend did bear the brunt of this. I hesitate to make a diagnosis I am not qualified to do, but it seemed to me that he is somewhere on the autistic spectrum, and a friend I watched it with whose son is autistic shared the same view. He didn't come across as a someone to admire as a person, although his climbing achievements are certainly deserving.

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