Professional Rock Climber, Film Subject
Alex Honnold is a professional adventure rock climber whose audacious free solo ascents of America’s biggest cliffs have made him one of the most recognized and followed climbers in the world. A gifted but hard-working athlete, Alex “No Big Deal” Honnold is known as much for his humble, self-effacing attitude as he is for the dizzyingly tall cliffs he has climbed without a rope to protect him if he falls. Honnold has been profiled by “60 Minutes” and The New York Times, been featured on the cover of National Geographic, appeared in international television commercials and starred in numerous adventure films, including the Emmy-nominated Alone on the Wall. He is currently the subject of the documentary feature Free Solo, which is being released by National Geographic Documentary Films. Honnold is sponsored by The North Face, Black Diamond, La Sportiva, Goal Zero, Stride Health and Maxim Ropes. He is the founder of the Honnold Foundation, an environmental nonprofit. To this day, he maintains his simple “dirtbag-climber” existence, living out of his van and
travelling the world in search of the next great vertical adventure.
Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi
Award-winning filmmaker Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi is the director and producer of Free Solo, from National Geographic Documentary Films. Co-directed with Jimmy Chin, the film offers an intimate, unflinching portrait of rock climber Alex Honnold, as he prepares for and then achieves his lifelong dream: to climb the face of the world’s most famous rock … without a rope.
Vasarhelyi’s films as a director include Meru (Oscars® Shortlist 2016; Sundance Audience Award 2015); Incorruptible (Truer Than Fiction Independent Spirit Award 2016); Youssou N’Dour: I Bring What I Love (Oscilloscope, 2009), which premiered at the Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals; A Normal Life (Tribeca Film Festival, Best Documentary 2003); and Touba (SXSW, Special Jury Prize Best Cinematography 2013). Vasarhelyi has directed a New York Times Op Doc, an episode for Netflix’s nonfiction design series Abstract and two episodes for ESPN’s new nonfiction series Enhanced. She has received grants from the Sundance Institute, the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Bertha Britdoc, the William and Mary Greve Foundation and the National Endowment of the Arts. She is a member of the DGA as well as AMPAS. She holds a B.A. in comparative literature from
Princeton University and lives in New York City.
Director, Producer, Cinematographer
Jimmy Chin is a professional climber, skier, mountaineer, 18-year member of The North Face Athlete Team and National Geographic Explorer. As the director, producer and cinematographer of the National Geographic Documentary Film Free Solo, which he co-directed with Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Chin captured rock climber Alex Honnold’s nail-biting free solo ascent of Yosemite National Park’s El Capitan.
Consistently over the past 20 years, Chin has led or participated in cutting-edge 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. He has worked with many of the greatest explorers, adventurers and athletes of our time, documenting their exploits in the most challenging conditions and locations in the world. He has garnered numerous awards shooting on assignment for publications, including The New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair and Outside Magazine, and has directed commercial work for a wide range of clients, including Apple, Chase, Pirelli and The North Face. His 2015 documentary Meru, which was also co-directed by Vasarhelyi, won the Audience Award at Sundance and was nominated for best documentary by the DGA and PGA.
Meru was also shortlisted for an Oscar®.