‘What If He Fell?’ The Huge Risks of ‘Free Solo’ Mean Its Reward Could Be the Best Doc Oscar

  • Indiewire
‘What If He Fell?’ The Huge Risks of ‘Free Solo’ Mean Its Reward Could Be the Best Doc Oscar
Three years ago when married filmmakers Jimmy Chin and E. Chai Vasarhelyi (“Meru”) embarked on climbing documentary “Free Solo” (NatGeo), they had no idea what a nailbiter it would finally be. By the time they unveiled the gorgeous 4K spectacle at Telluride over Labor Day weekend and watched it with an audience as well as their crew, they were stunned at how it brought back feelings of Ptsd. “It was crazy,” said Vasarhelyi. “Looking at dailies of the climb, it no longer affected me while we were cutting these scenes over and over again. But seeing it with an audience brought it back. My stomach fell out.”

During filming, the filmmakers weren’t the ones climbing the 3000-foot rock face of El Capitan without a rope, where any misstep would mean certain death. That was mountaineer Alex Honnold. But in some ways watching him and tracking him and not getting
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