Free Solo Directors Bring Subject Alex Honnold on Stage as They Win Best Documentary Feature
Free Solo, Minding the Gap, Of Fathers and Sons, RBG and Hale County This Morning, This Evening were all up for the honor at Sunday's 91st Academy Awards
A solo victory!
Helen Mirren and Jason Momoa presented the award.
“Oh s—,” director Jimmy Chin said while accepting the honor.
“Thank you National Geographic for believing in us and hiring women and people of color,” added his wife and co-director Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi. “It was a work of an army and we appreciate you in every way. Thank you for our families and especially our two kids.”
Alex Honnold, who was the subject of the film, joined the directors on stage, where he was thanked.
Be sure to check out PEOPLE’s full Oscars coverage to get the latest news on film’s biggest night.
The film follows professional rock climber Honnold’s journey to become the first person to ever free solo climb Yosemite’s 3,000 ft. high El Capitan Wall. The 33-year-old completed the feat in June 2017 without any ropes or safety gear.
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“My confidence was soaring, I felt great,” Honnold told CNN Sport. “Conditions were perfect and I kind of knew I had it.”
Free Solo also looks at Honnald’s relationship with his then-girlfriend Sanni McCandless, who worried about him surviving the risky climb. The documentary shows that one of the reasons Honnold took on such a challenge was because his amygdala — the part of the brain which processes fear — is not stimulated in the same way as most humans, as shown on an MRI scan.
“I found free soloing scary when I first started but I also found it exhilarating in the right way,” Honnald continued to CNN. “Possibly, other people find it way scarier and less satisfying so they are never really willing to put the time and effort into it because the ratio is not right.”
The 91st Academy Awards are broadcasting live from Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 24 at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT on ABC.