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Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi Biography
Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi (Chai Vasarhelyi ) born c. 1979/1980 (sources differ) is a Director and producer. She is known for Meru (2015), Free Solo (2018) and Youssou Ndour: I Bring What I Love (2008).
Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi Family
Chai Vasarhelyi is the daughter of Marina Vasarhelyi, a college administrator, and Miklos Vasarhelyi, a college professor. Her father is from Hungary and her mother is from Hong Kong. She grew up in New York. She is a graduate of The Brearley School and holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Princeton University.
Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi Jimmy Chin
Vasarhelyi married Jimmy Chin, a photographer for National Geographic and a professional skier and climber, on June 1, 2013. They met at a conference in 2012. They have a daughter, Marina, born on September 25, 2013, and their son, James, born on December 7, 2015. They live in New York City.
Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi Nationality
She was born in the United States of America and hence is American.
Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi Net Worth
Her net worth is still under review, we will update as soon as it’s clear.
Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi Career
In 2004, she worked as an assistant to director Mike Nichols on the film Closer. She has worked extensively with Emmy-Award-winning cinematographer Scott Duncan documenting events such as the Dakar Rally.
She started off with her first film, A Normal Life, which won Best Documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2003. Her second film was Youssou N’Dour: I Bring What I Love, which was released in theaters in the U.S. and internationally, it premiered at the Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals and won numerous awards including the Special Jury Prize at the Middle East International Film Festival in 2008 and a nomination for the Pare Lorentz Award at the 2009 International Documentary Association Awards.
In 2013, she completed Touba, a visceral documentary experience that takes the viewer through each step of the annual Mouride pilgrimage, the Grand Magaal in Touba, Senegal. It premiered at SXSW 2013 where it won the Special Jury Prize for Best Cinematography.
She also documented the heated Senegal Presidential elections of 2012. Incorruptible (formerly An African Spring), the intense and unflinching story of Senegalese democracy which also won the Independent Spirit Truer Than Fiction Award in 2015.
In 2018, her’s and Chin’s film Free Solo won the People’s Choice Award: Documentaries at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival. The film has received critical claim as both a riveting documentary and a profound story of human endeavor.
Vasarhelyi has directed a New York Times Op-Doc, an episode for Netflix’s non-fiction design series ABSTRACT, and two episodes for ESPN’s non-fiction series Future of Sports.she received grants from the Sundance Institute, the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Bertha Britdoc, the William and Mary Greve Foundation and the National Endowment of the Arts.
She was also selected as a 2013 Sundance Documentary Film Fellow, named one of Filmmaker magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film in 2005 and received an Achievement Award from Creative Visions Foundation in 2008.
On January 22, 2019, Free Solo was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.
Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi Movies|Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi Filmography
2003: A Normal Life
2008: Youssou N’Dour: I Bring What I Love
2017: “Abstract: The Art of Design” -TV Series Documentary
2018: Free Solo
2018: “Enhanced” -TV Series Documentary
Incorruptible Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi
Incorruptible is a new documentary feature from director Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi (Touba, Youssou N’dour: I Bring What I Love) that traces events surrounding Senegal’s tumultuous 2012 elections.
In the streets of Senegal, a youth movement rises up against a regime bent on retaining power in this chronicle of the nation’s stormy 2012 elections.
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Alex Honnold and Director Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi Share What It Was Like to Film the Death-Defying Climb
Emertainment Monthly: (to Alex) I was wondering specifically what it was like for you to watch (Free Solo) because that’s a whole year–
Alex Honnold: Two years.
EM: Yeah, two years of your life put under a microscope.
Honnold: It was an experience. It seems like audiences watch with their hands covering part of their face for most of the film. And that’s exactly how I watch it, except that I cover it for the first 40 minutes or first hour when it’s my relationship with Sanni [McCandless] and my family and backstory and all that and I’m just like, “Aw, cringe, cringe,” and then with the climbing I’m like, “This is awesome!”
EM: Did you feel like you learned anything about yourself in watching it?
Honnold: I mean, maybe that I should be a little more friendly or kind or like, caring or whatever. But I mean, not really, I mean it’s very honest. It’s like, this is just my life for two years. So I’m just like, “Yep, that’s me. There you have it.” For better or worse, that’s just my life laid out on the screen.
MIT: You mentioned many times during the film about free soloing for the right reasons and whether or not the fame surrounding this accomplishment, how it affected you. Do you think free soloing El Cap would have been as grand or as beautiful if there had been no public huzzah around it?
Honnold: I mean, the experience would have probably been just as good. In some ways, the experience with the film was slightly better because I’d been working with the crew for so long that I got to share this beautiful moment with them. You can see me high-fiving them on the summit and it was really nice to share that with somebody.
I mean, had I free soloed El Cap entirely by myself and then been sitting on the summit completely alone, that would have been very satisfying too and the decline itself would have felt the same, but at a certain point you’d be like, “Where are my friends?” I think the experience probably worked out as well as I could, it was like best case scenario.
And in some ways now, having the actual film in theaters is nice, because I relive this amazing moment for myself. Every time we do a Q&A, I watch the last ten minutes of the film, and there’s this amazing music and it’s so beautiful and I’m like, “Oh, what a beautiful day.” It’s like getting a really nice picture of this special place you got to go.
Chai: In the future, if you ever have children or something, that’s kind of amazing that they can see that.
Honnold: Yeah. In some ways, it makes the whole experience better to know that it’s captured in this nice way and it’s so beautiful.
MIT: As a part of the filmmaking process, over and over again, you guys as [a] whole film crew, you had to trust that Alex wouldn’t feel pressured into doing that.
Chai: I think [that] it was a central part of the process, was that it was a personal line that Jimmy would never be able to cross, that we cannot ask Alex if he’s going to do it. It was our job to minimize the pressure as much as possible and kind of insulate him from it and trust in his own decision capacity, his capacity to make the right decisions. And if we didn’t have that trust in him, we wouldn’t be there. He had to do it because he was ready to do it and we were there to help him as much as we could and working alongside him so there were no surprises from our side. He knows where the cameras are, he knows the person behind that camera, and–
Honnold: Trust them not to drop anything on me.
Chai: Yeah, trust them not to drop anything.
Honnold: Which is totally real. Not totally joking. It’s important to trust the people you’re working with and prepare together so that each person knows exactly what’s going to be happening.
EM: Was there anything in the process of the filming that was really surprising? Like, a problem you didn’t think you were going to have and then all of a sudden you’re like, “Oh, I never even thought about how difficult that would be.”
Honnold: When you showed up in Yosemite for the first time and you’re like, “That wall’s way too big.”
Chai: Yeah. Surprises, I think Sanni was a revelation. So, when we first began making the film, Alex was online dating, which is what I guess people do now.
Honnold: That’s normal.
Chai: I guess I’m just too old.
Honnold: Yeah, exactly.
Chai: And he was on his book tour and setting up [a] date for most cities and we thought we had a comedy on our hands. And then Sanni arrived and she is very very special. She’s emotionally intelligent and articulate about those feelings and has enough self-confidence to be able to push back on Alex and stand up for herself and also love him for who he is. And so that triggered, as you see in the film, a real emotional evolution for Alex. And that was a surprise. It was great, just to have someone who is there and adds this tension to film because it’s clearly a dilemma, it becomes another kind of mountain in the movie. So, that was a surprise. And our other surprise was the unicorn.
Honnold: You love that unicorn. That’s something I never would have included in the film like, “It’s too random, it’s too weird, it doesn’t make any sense.”
Chai: But that’s the point. That random, it’s the total bizarre spontaneity of life.
EM: Did you think about that at all as you were climbing?
Honnold: No, I didn’t even really notice when I was climbing because he was still sitting in bed so I was just like, “good morning,” and didn’t want to talk to anybody so I just climbed by. Then later saw and was like, “Oh he’s in a freaking unicorn suit, that’s weird.” But I didn’t want to be distracted so it’s a good thing I didn’t start chatting with a freaking unicorn.
EM: Were there ever any moments when you were really close to calling the whole thing off? Not necessarily the climb, but calling off the film.
Honnold: No, not really. With the fall, I was disappointed with myself, and it felt like a failure for the day, but even then, within a couple [of] days I was like, “Oh this is pretty good. I almost did it, I was almost ready.” It kind of showed that it was possible, once I got past the initial disappointment, I knew I was ready and that it could be possible. I don’t think we were ever that close…we were pretty committed. You know, we’d started down this path and I’d been working with my friends and it felt like a team working towards this thing. I don’t think anybody really wanted to walk away from it.
Chai: We were all very very committed, the whole group. I think that’s what makes the film special, on every level people were committed. Also because of the pressure and the risk.
Honnold: Yeah, the camera guys were coming back to like work for free basically because they wanted to see it through to the end. Claire was mentioning that he was there for weeks just covering expenses but not paying his day rate–
Chai: Because he’s so expensive.
Honnold: Yeah, exactly.
Chai: But I think this was one of those really special experiences for him.
Honnold: Totally. And I’m close friends with all of the crew and I think each of them individually had this amazing experience from the whole process. For Sam [Crossley], one of the other cameramen started as sort of an assistant and then by the end was on the wall filming. Through the two years of filming, he had a pretty amazing transformation. I think the whole thing was a pretty formative experience for him.
Chai: For Sam, I was like, “This is your first big job? That’s amazing.”
Honnold: Well you know he’s quote to Jimmy [Hurst] or whatever, where the day of he was slighting depressed on top, and he said to Jimmy, “It’s kind of sad that I’m only 24 and I probably just did the best filming that I ever will in my life.” Because he was shooting the main shot down the corners, it was awesome. But you know, poor Sam.
EM: How long did it take to map out the routes of where the cameras would be placed?
Chai: We were preparing for two and a half years and editing along the way, so we knew what the main story points would be. Given that El Cap was so big, we were able to just focus on what we needed.
Honnold: Be strategic about placement.
Chai: Yeah, and they were moving all over the wall. Always visualize that, they were going up and down.
Honnold: Lot of cameras. A lot of moving parts.
MIT: The one thing that stands out to me that you said in the movie was that the fact that you’ve chosen it, you’ve chosen climbing, this way of life, that makes it so that you have to face your fear because the goal demands it. Can you expand on this?
Honnold: The quote … I don’t know, you know the line better than I do. Over the course of two years, there are all kinds of rambles, I say all kinds of crazy things that wind up in the film.
Chai: I think it was also about the mindset of free soloing.
Honnold: Yeah, facing your fear because the goal demands it. I think that’s part of the appeal of soloing, is that it requires excellence of you. You’re doing something difficult and it forces you to perform at your best. And ultimately, the feeling of performing at your best is a very satisfying feeling. That’s part of the joy of climbing. And by choosing to free solo, it just forces you to perform at that level.
Adopted from; emertainmentmonthly.com