From Oscar®-winning filmmakers Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, 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 midlife, Kris and the outdoorsman and entrepreneur Doug Tompkins left behind the world of the massively successful outdoor brands they’d helped pioneer — Patagonia, The North Face and Esprit — and turned their attention to a visionary effort to create national parks throughout Chile and Argentina via their nonprofit Tompkins Conservation. WILD LIFE chronicles the highs and lows of their journey to affect the largest private land donation in history. Co-directors Chai Vasarhelyi (Meru, The Rescue) and Jimmy Chin (Free Solo, Return to Space) join us for a conversation on how the dedication and vision of a small group of remarkable people became something extraordinary, their personal connection to Doug and Kris Tompkins, Yvon Chouinard, Rick Ridgeway, the challenge of detailing a decades long love story, and the determined leadership of Kris Tompkins to ensure that nearly 15 million acres of pristine habitat will survive and thrive.
About the Tompkins Foundation – Founded by the late Douglas Tompkins and cofounded by Kristine Tompkins, Tompkins Conservation is protecting and restoring wild beauty and biodiversity by creating national parks, bringing back species through rewilding, and helping communities thrive through nature-based tourism. Over three decades, the nonprofit has protected approximately 14.8 million acres of parklands in Chile and Argentina through the creation or expansion of 15 national parks in those countries, in addition to two marine protected areas of 30 million acres. Through active rewilding, the organization is bringing back over a dozen species that are in critical numbers, endangered or locally extinct. In 2015, a kayaking accident in Patagonia took Doug’s life. Alongside his wife, Kris, the couple is amongst the foremost conservation philanthropists in history. Today, their work continues through the offspring organizations Rewilding Argentina and Rewilding Chile. The future of the planet depends on the power within each of us to create change for the better. Read on to learn more about the work Tompkins Conservation is doing and to get in involved, visit TompkinsConservation.org
About the filmmakers – Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin are Academy® Award-winning filmmakers. The two are the directors and producers of “Free Solo,” an intimate, unflinching portrait of rock climber Alex Honnold, which was awarded a BAFTA and the Academy® Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2019. Their first film together, “Meru,” won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival in 2015 and was on the 2016 Oscar shortlist for Best Documentary Feature. More recently, they directed the BAFTA and DGA-nominated documentary “The Rescue,” chronicling the against-all-odds 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, and the National Geographic series “Edge of the Unknown With Jimmy Chin”. Chin and Vasarhelyi are currently working on their first scripted feature for Netflix, “Nyad”, about Diana Nyad’s swim from Cuba to Florida.Vasarhelyi’s other films as a director include “Incorruptible” (Truer Than Fiction Independent Spirit Award 2016); “Youssou N’Dour: I Bring What I Love” (Oscilloscope, 2009), which premiered at the Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals; “A Normal Life” (Tribeca Film Festival, Best Documentary 2003); and “Touba” (SXSW, Special Jury Prize Best Cinematography in 2013). 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, the AMPAS, and holds a B.A. in comparative literature from Princeton University. Jimmy Chin is also a National Geographic photographer and professional climber and skier who has led and documented cutting-edge expeditions around the world for over 20 years. He has climbed and skied Mount Everest from the summit and made the coveted first ascent of the Shark’s Fin on Mount Meru. His photographs have graced the covers of National Geographic Magazine and the New York Times Magazine and his first book of photography, There and Back, became a New York Times Best Seller in 2021. Vasarhelyi and Chin split their time between New York City and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, with their daughter, Marina, and son, James.
“It’s so well made, and puts you in the middle of some really breathtaking scenery.” – Christy Lemire, Film Week, KPCC (NPR)
“Another breathtaking journey from Chin and Vasarhelyi, one that fits snugly in their canon about indomitable rule breakers who achieved greatness and broke their barriers by persistence and unwavering dedication.” – Randy Myers, San Jose Mercury News