The Image Nation Abu Dhabi and National Geographic co-production Free Solo was awarded the Oscar for Best Feature Documentary at the Academy Awards, held last night in Los Angeles.
The award is the second Oscar success for Image Nation – the producer was previously behind the 2011 Best Actress-winning The Help, starring Octavia Spencer. It is the also the latest in a long line of accolades for Free Solo, which has already been honoured with the Bafta for Best Documentary, three Cinema Eye Honours and three Critics' Choice documentary awards, a Cinema Audio Society award, Ace editor's guild awards and PGA and DGA nominations.
From award-winning documentary filmmaker Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and world-renowned photographer and mountaineer Jimmy Chin, 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 world's most famous rock, the 975-metre – or around 152 metres higher than Burj Khalifa – El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, without a rope.
The documentary will air in English on the main NatGeo channel on April 6, and on rotation on National Geographic Abu Dhabi in Arabic from April 7. Sanjay Raina, general manager and senior vice president, Fox Networks Group Middle East, adds that he hopes to also secure a cinema release in the region for the film – it has already taken more than $20 million at the US box office.
“We are also proud to have partnered with Image Nation, an Abu Dhabi-based global company to produce a visual masterpiece that has delighted and inspired so many people around the world,” Mr Raina added.
The film was named one of the top 10 films of the year by Entertainment Weekly and was praised by critics across the globe as "one of the most arresting documentaries of the year", "extraordinary", "amazing" and "visually staggering." It was equally praised for its stunning cinematography, chronicling Honnold's death-defying ascent of the vertical rock.