Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin Tackle Patagonia Love Triangle

While their most recent documentary, “The Rescue,” to be screened in the market this week at IDFA, continues its festival and awards circuit, directors Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin have been working in the editing suite preparing their next effort on the big screen. – a love story spanning decades mixing business, philanthropy and the great outdoors.

Talking with VarietyVasarhelyi offered new details of the long-at-work project, which had previously been called “Tompkins.” Produced by National Geographic and targeted for a mid-2022 release, the as-yet-untitled document will follow the complicated relationship between conservationist and climber Yvon Chouinard, founder of the Patagonia clothing brand, Douglas Tompkins, co-founder of North Face brands. and Esprit, and Kristine McDivitt, the former CEO of Patagonia who later married Tompkins.

“It’s not a true love triangle, but it’s kind of a love triangle,” says Vasarhelyi. “It’s a great love story with an important female lead, which is a big step for us. He inhabits the incredibly private worlds of Jimmy’s original mentors, who were best friends, though they were two totally different types of people, with a woman in between. “

As with the previous films “Free Solo” and “Meru”, the next project will explore the world of elite climbers, in which Chin is a leading figure, mixing images of adventures, filmed in the private Tompkins nature reserve. , Patagonia Park, with interviews and footage to explore this unconventional relationship.

“Doug named the highest mountain in his park Cerro Kristine, after his wife,” says Vasarhelyi. “Jimmy climbed that mountain with Doug and Yvon in 2001, [and, after Doug’s death in 2015] Kris really wanted to climb the mountain that bears her name. So the movie will be more of a meditative journey on how we got there. “

That process took some time. The filmmakers began working on the project several years ago, shooting the last footage in February 2019. Although they originally intended for this film to follow its Oscar-winning “Free Solo,” the focus shifted when the opportunity for “The Rescue “” emerged, a fact that speaks to the accelerated timeline of this latest project.

“This has been a sprint,” says Vasarhelyi of his most recent film. “[It’s been] Nonstop for the last eight months! We were so desperate trying to finish it that we showed a version in Telluride, another in Toronto, and [kept working on it] until the premiere of the film. “

With “The Rescue” now out in the world and the filmmakers accompanying him throughout the international circuit, Vasarhelyi is relieved to be able to focus her attention on new projects. “You have to distract yourself with something else to start coming up with new ideas,” he says. “We just saw our first cut of our next document, so creatively, we are in the real moment again. We are understanding what we have, addressing the issues that have been haunting us, and it’s been great to have that. “

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