Section: Documentary Spotlight
Directors: Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin
Logline: Wild Life follows conservationist Kris Tompkins on an epic, decades-spanning love story as wild as the landscapes she dedicated her life to protecting. After falling in love in mid-life, Kris and the outdoorsman and entrepreneur Doug Tompkins left behind the world of the massively successful outdoor brands they’d helped pioneer like Patagonia, The North Face, and Esprit, and turned their attention to a visionary effort to create National Parks throughout Chile and Argentina. Wild Life chronicles the highs and lows of their journey to effect the largest private land donation in history.
Panelists: Vasarhelyi and Chin
Distributor: National Geographic Documentary Films
Premiered: Sunday, March 12; Next screening Thursday, March 16 3:15 p.m. CT at ZACH Theatre
Key Quotes: Chai Vasarhelyi on sprinting from their SXSW premiere to watching the Academy Awards: “I think it’s the first time our crew ever saw me run, which was from our screening to the Oscar viewing… I’m really proud of everyone who won [Sunday] night. Everything Everywhere All at Once, we watched it while we were shooting our first fiction film, we were in the Dominican Republic. And it’s great to see another Asian face up there. And also this idea of everyone thanking their mothers [in acceptance speeches], I appreciate that.”
Jimmy Chin on flashing back to he and Chai’s Academy Award victory for Free Solo in 2019: “Of course, always when you’re watching the Oscars, it’s hard not to relive that moment and kind of relate and think about that anticipation sitting in the chairs and waiting for that moment when they open the envelope and that feeling of that eternal breath-draw before they open it, where you can see everybody on screen. Those are emotional moments for sure.”
Jimmy Chin on Wild Life: “I felt like this was one of the great untold stories of our time. It’s an extraordinary love story between two people, but it’s also a love story about our planet on so many levels. These were the… original dirt bag climbers and skiers and surfers that really defined a way of life and a culture and an era. But they were also extraordinary entrepreneurs that went on to do something that has never been done before, which falls in line with the stories that we love to tell — people achieving the impossible. And what they achieved in conservation is something that we’ve never seen before, the biggest private land donation in the history of mankind.”
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