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
HALE COUNTY THIS MORNING, THIS EVENING
RaMell Ross, Joslyn Barnes and Su Kim
MINDING THE GAP
Bing Liu and Diane Quon
OF FATHERS AND SONS
Talal Derki, Ansgar Frerich, Eva Kemme and Tobias N. Siebert
Betsy West and Julie Cohen
Watch the Free Solo team's acceptance speech below: