Academy Award-Winning Filmmaker, Free Solo
Chai Vasarhelyi is an Academy® Award-winning filmmaker. Together with Jimmy Chin, she directed and produced Free Solo, an intimate, unflinching portrait of rock climber Alex Honnold, which was awarded a BAFTA and the Academy® Award for Best Documentary Feature. The film also received seven Emmy® awards.
Vasarhelyi is Executive Producer of National Geographic's Edge of the Unknown with Jimmy Chin. The show takes audiences inside the minds of elite adventure athletes through transformative stories of confronting fear, devastating personal loss and Mother Nature at her harshest.
Vasarhelyi and Chin directed the BAFTA and DGA-nominated documentary The Rescue, chronicling the enthralling, against-all-odds story that transfixed the world: the daring rescue of twelve boys and their coach from deep inside a flooded cave in Northern Thailand. Other projects include Return to Space about SpaceX and NASA’s first joint spaceflight, which hit the top 10 on Netflix’s most watched films list. Her first film with Chin, Meru, won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival and was on the Oscar shortlist for Best Documentary Feature.
Vasarhelyi’s other films as a director include Incorruptible (Truer Than Fiction Independent Spirit Award 2016); Youssou N’Dour: I Bring What I Love, which premiered at the Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals; A Normal Life (Tribeca Film Festival, Best Documentary); and Touba (SXSW, Special Jury Prize Best Cinematography). Vasarhelyi has directed two New York Times Op-Docs, two episodes for Netflix’s nonfiction design series Abstract and two episodes for ESPN’s nonfiction series Enhanced. She has received grants from the Sundance Institute, the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Bertha Britdoc, and the National Endowment of the Arts. She is a member of the DGA, and the AMPAS, and holds a B.A. in comparative literature from Princeton University.
Vasarhelyi splits her time between New York City and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, with Chin, their daughter, Marina, and son, James.