You may have missed it, but the UAE won at the Oscars on Sunday night.
Image Nation Abu Dhabi’s breathtaking co-production ‘Free Solo’ reached the peak of recognition at the 91st Academy Awards in Los Angeles, winning Best Documentary Feature.
The National Geographic film, directed by Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, follows a stunningly precarious undertaking by Alex Honnold, who attempts to perform a free solo climb of the vertical rock formation El Capitan in 2017. According to Michael Garin, the CEO of Image Nation, the documentary is “as close to a perfect film as could be.”
“First of all, it’s aspirational — how many people get to live their dreams? Secondly, like the best fiction, your heart was in your mouth the entire film, despite the fact that you knew he made it,” Garin told tabloid!, speaking hours after the big win.
Image Nation once again teamed up with American production duo Parkes/Macdonald here, after they had worked together on the National Geographic film He Named Me Malala.
Their role extended beyond helping to finance Free Solo.
“[Producer Evan] Heyes, who was up there last night accepting the Oscar, and [Image Nation’s Ben Ross] worked very closely together... They optioned a magazine article that led to this idea of following this sort of epic climb,” said Garin. They came up with a short film, called a proof of concept, to sell the project.
“Unlike lots of projects, where a co-producer’s role is just to put money into a film, this really … was a partnership that began at the inception,” said Garin.
Sanjay Raina, the general manager and senior vice president of Fox Networks Group & National Geographic, called the Oscars victory humbling and “so amazingly encouraging.”
Audiences will be able to catch the film for themselves when it premieres in English and Arabic this April.
“We have an English version that will be airing on the National Geographic English-language channels [on April 6], and we have a dubbed version that will be for the whole Mena audience [on April 7],” said Raina.