Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin

USA, 2018 / 100 min / English OV with French subt. (EN OV with FR subt.) / Documentary

In partnership with Le Jeudi

The story behind the greatest free solo climbing feat ever captured on film.

A stunning, intimate and unflinching portrait of free soloist climber Alex Honnold, as he prepares to achieve his lifelong dream: climbing the face of the world’s most famous rock, the 900-metre El Capitan in Yosemite National Park without a  safety rope. Celebrated as one of the greatest athletic feats of any kind, Honnold’s climb set the ultimate standard: perfection or death. Succeeding in this challenge places his story in the annals of human achievement. As the climber begins his training, the armour of invincibility he’s built up over decades unexpectedly breaks apart when Honnold begins to fall in love, threatening his focus and giving way to injury and setbacks.

Free Solo is an edge-of-your seat thriller and an inspiring portrait of an athlete who challenges both his body and his beliefs on a quest to triumph over the impossible, revealing the personal toll of excellence. Vasarhelyi and Chin succeed in beautifully capturing deeply human moments with Honnold as well as the death-defying climb with exquisite artistry and masterful, vertigo-inducing camerawork.

“It was important to me that the film explores not only Alex’s internal dialogues, but also his personal relationships — those with family and friends, and the nascent relationship between Alex and his girlfriend, Sanni McCandless. We wanted to look at how Sanni lives with the risks Alex takes and how Alex deals with balancing his climbing aspirations with his personal life.” Director’s statement by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi


Tue 12/03 21:00 Ciné Utopia EN OV with FR subt. Public

“This spectacularly shot mountain movie demands to be seen on the big screen, as all grand outdoor adventures do. […] The doc gives a fair portrait of the dedication required to stand on top of the world. […] Free Solo takes audiences to thrilling heights as directors Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, who previously made the excellent mountain doc Meru, capture Honnold’s climb in extraordinarily close proximity. Thanks to a production team of seasoned climbers and some high-end gear, the film provides intimate looks at Honnold’s climb through every inch of his ascent. The outstanding cinematography reveals the extremity of the climb as the vantage point of the camera allows one to make the climber’s ultimate faux pas of looking back to see the distance below. The sense of perspective is spectacular and thrilling. It’s like scaling the dangerous peak by Alex’s side, experiencing the intensity of the climb without leaving the safety of the movie theatre.” Pat Mullen, POV Magazine, 13/09/2018

Free Solo is a documentary about a spectacular feat of climbing that is guaranteed to take your breath away.” Kenneth Turan, LA Times, 27/09/2018

“Chin and Vasarhelyi have done such a good job laying out some of El Capitan’s specific challenges for the viewer that they become resonant beats in a mini-story arc. It’s scary and exhilarating stuff.” Glenn Kenny,, 28/09/2018

“A daredevil with a samurai’s intensity, Alex Honnold scales a vertiginous cliff without ropes in this visually staggering documentary.” Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian, 13/12/2018

“A staggering documentary about extreme climbing.” David Sims, The Atlantic, 27/09/2018

“A thrilling, astounding mountain-climbing Doc.” Jordan Ruimy, The Playlist, 16/09/2018


  • Oscar for Best Documentary, 91st Academy Awards, 2019 (USA)
  • Best Documentary, British Academy Film Awards, 2019 (UK)
  • Grolsch People's Choice Documentary Award, Toronto International Film Festival, 2018 (Canada)
  • Best Cinematography, Critics’ Choice Documentary Award, 2018 (USA)
  • Best Documentary, Seattle Film Critics Awards, 2018 (USA)
  • Audience Award – Documentary Feature, Virginia Film Festival, 2018 (USA)
  • NBR Award – Top Five Documentaries, National Board of Review, 2018 (USA)
  • Valley of the Docs Audience Award, Mill Valley Film Festival, 2018 (USA)
  • Most Innovative Documentary, Critics’ Choice Documentary Award, 2018 (USA)
  • Best Sports Documentary, Critics’ Choice Documentary Award, 2018 (USA)
  • Most Compelling Living Subject of a Documentary, Critics’ Choice Documentary Award, 2018 (USA)
  • Capri Documentary Award, 2018 (USA)
  • The Unforgettables, Cinema Eye Honors Awards, 2019 (USA)
  • Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography, Cinema Eye Honors Awards, 2019 (USA)
  • Outstanding Achievement in Production, Cinema Eye Honors Awards, 2019 (USA)
  • Cinema Eye Audience Choice Prize, Cinema Eye Honors Awards, 2019 (USA)
Cast & Credits
Alex Honnold, Tommy Caldwell, Jimmy Chin, Cheyne Lempe, Mikey Schaefer, Sanni McCandless, Dierdre Wolownick, Peter Croft
Jimmy Chin, Clair Popkin, Mikey Schaefer
Deborah Wallach
Marco Beltrami
Little Monster Films, Itinerant Media, Parkes+MacDonald/Image Nation, National Geographic Documentary Films
Periscoop Film

Award-winning director Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi’s films as a director include A Normal Life (2003), Youssou N’Dour: I Bring What I Love (2008), Touba (2013) and Incorruptible (2015), all of them winning multiple awards at many different festivals. Before directing Free Solo (2018), she already ventured into the world of big wall climbing with the Sundance Audience Award-winning Meru (2015) which she directed with her husband, the climber Jimmy Chin. Vasarhelyi has directed a New York Times Op Doc and an episode for Netflix’s nonfiction design series Abstract. She is a member of the Directors Guild of America (DGA) as well as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). She holds a B.A. in comparative literature from Princeton University and lives in New York City.

Jimmy Chin is a professional climber, skier, mountaineer, 18-year member of The North Face Athlete Team and National Geographic Explorer. Consistently over the past 20 years, Chin has led or participated in climbing and ski mountaineering expeditions to all seven continents and made the first and only American ski descent from the summit of Mount Everest. He is also a filmmaker and National Geographic photographer, documenting exploits of adventurers and explorers in the most challenging conditions around the world. He has garnered numerous awards shooting on assignment for publications, including The New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair and Outside Magazine. His 2015 documentary Meru, which he co-directed with his wife Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, won the Audience Award at Sundance and got shortlisted for an Oscar.

  • Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi
  • 2018 – Free Solo (documentary)
  • 2018 – Enhanced (2 episodes of the TV documentary series)
  • 2017 – Abstract: The Art of Design (1 episode of the TV documentary series)
  • 2015 – Meru (documentary)
  • 2015 – Incorruptible (documentary)
  • 2013 – Touba (documentary)
  • 2008 – Youssou Ndour: I Bring What I Love (documentary)
  • 2003 – A Normal Life (documentary)
  • Jimmy Chin
  • 2018 – Free Solo 360 (documentary short)
  • 2018 – Free Solo (documentary)
  • 2015 – Meru (documentary)