Documentary film about El Capitan climb won Oscar, BAFTA awards

National Geographic Channel will air Oscar-winning documentary film Free Solo on Sunday, March 3, at 9 p.m. (8 p.m. central time) commercial free, followed by a global rollout across 172 countries and 43 languages, the programmer said.

Directed by documentary filmmaker Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and photographer and mountaineer Jimmy Chin (who directed the Oscar-shortlisted film Meru), Free Solo is "a stunning, intimate and unflinching portrait of the free soloist climber Alex Honnold as he prepares to achieve his lifelong dream: climbing the face of the world’s most famous rock ... the 3,200-foot El Capitan in Yosemite National Park ... without a rope," per Nat Geo.

Both a thriller and an inspiring story about an athlete's quest to triumph over the impossible, Free Solo posted the highest per screen average of any documentary during its opening weekend (Sept. 28, 2018) and the highest box office for a documentary in its 19th weekend in release, according to the programmer. Now, as it enters its 20th week in release, the National Geographic Documentary Films offering also won a BAFTA award for best documentary in addition to Critics Choice and Cinema Eye awards, among several other industry recognitions.

“When we were making this film, we could not have imagined the response we have received,” directors Vasarhelyi and Chin said in a release. “While most of us wouldn’t dream of free-soloing 3,000 feet, Alex’s story of courage, dedication and determination is very relatable. We’re grateful to be working with National Geographic and Fox Home Entertainment, and thrilled that Alex’s journey will continue to inspire others to dare to dream.” National Geographic Documentary Films and Nat Geo Channel are in the National Geographic Partners joint venture of National Geographic and 21st Century Fox.

Pictured: Alex Honnold climbs through the enduro corner on El Capitan's Freerider. (National Geographic/Jimmy Chin).

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