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 mid-life, 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. WILD LIFE chronicles the highs and lows of their journey to effect the largest private land donation in history.
Meet the Filmmakers
CHAI VASARHELYI & JIMMY CHINDIRECTORS, PRODUCERS
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.
BOB EISENHARDT, ACEPRODUCER AND EDITOR
Bob Eisenhardt is a filmmaker renowned for editing documentaries and a frequent LMF collaborator. He is an Oscar® nominee, a four-time Emmy® winner, and a two-time winner of the Eddie Award from the honorary society of American Cinema Editors. He has over 60 films to his credit. His film, “Spaces: The Architecture of Paul Rudolph,” was an Academy Award® nominee for Best Short Documentary. Eisenhardt edited “Free Solo,” the 2019 Oscar and BAFTA award winner, for which he received the ACE Eddie for Best Editing - Documentary. Other recent films include “Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood”; “Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan,” shown at the 2016 New York Film Festival; and HBO’s “Everything Is Copy: Nora Ephron, Scripted and Unscripted,” shown at the 2015 New York Film Festival, a Primetime Emmy nominee, and winner of ACE Eddie for Best Editing – TV Documentary. Other films include “Wagner's Dream,” which received an Emmy nomination for editing; “Meru,” Sundance Film Festival Audience Award winner; “Valentino: The Last Emperor”; “Dixie Chicks: Shut Up & Sing”; “Living Emergency: Stories of Doctors Without Borders”; and “Concert of Wills: Making of Getty Center.” When not in the edit room, Eisenhardt teaches at the School of Visual Arts MFA Program and the thesis master class at the New York Film Academy.
ANNA BARNESPRODUCERAnna Barnes is an Emmy®-winning producer who runs all aspects of Little Monster Films, developing content and overseeing the production of films and series from inception to release. Prior to LMF, she worked on many of the top nonfiction films of the past decade, including a long roster of Oscar® winners and nominees such as Ezra Edelman’s “OJ: Made in America,” Matthew Heineman’s “Cartel Land,” Bryan Fogel’s “Icarus,” Yance Ford’s “Strong Island,” RaMell Ross’ “Hale County: This Morning, This Evening” and Gianfranco Rosi’s “Fire at Sea.” As an executive at Cinetic Media, she oversaw the distribution campaigns for many successful documentaries such as the Oscar®-nominated Banksy documentary “Exit Through the Gift Shop” and Asif Kapadia’s “Senna.” Having first worked with Chin and Vasarhelyi on their 2015 hit “Meru,” she re-teamed with them and National Geographic on the record-breaking theatrical release for the Oscar-winning “Free Solo.” In her time at LMF, she has produced or executive produced multiple feature documentaries and series with the duo, including “The Rescue,” “14 Peaks,” “Return to Space,” “Edge of the Unknown with Jimmy Chin,” and the upcoming WILD LIFE. Barnes started her career in Boston working with legendary filmmaker and Oscar winner Frederick Wiseman.
Meet the Participants
Kristine McDivitt Tompkins is the president and co-founder of Tompkins Conservation. She is an American conservationist and the former CEO of Patagonia, Inc. For three decades, she has committed to protecting and restoring wild beauty and biodiversity by creating national parks, restoring wildlife, inspiring activism and fostering economic vitality as a result of conservation.
Kristine and her late husband, Douglas Tompkins, have protected approximately 14.8 million acres of parklands in Chile and Argentina through Tompkins Conservation and its partners, making them among the most successful national park-oriented philanthropists in history.
Through Tompkins Conservation and its offspring organizations, Rewilding Argentina and Rewilding Chile, she has helped to create or expand 15 national parks in Argentina and Chile, including two marine national parks. She also works to bring back species that have gone locally or nationally extinct, such as the jaguar, red-and-green macaw, and giant river otters in Northeast Argentina, and Darwin’s rheas and extremely endangered huemul deer in Chile.
Kristine served as Patron for Protected Areas for the UN Environmental Programme from 2018-2022. The recipient of numerous honors, she was the first conservationist to be awarded the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy. Her 2020 TED Talk, "Let's Make the World Wild Again," has over 2 million views.
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
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.
“As filmmakers, we have always loved telling stories about human potential and the power of the human spirit. We love examining what humans can achieve when they commit to the impossible. Kris and Doug lived extraordinary lives, leaving everything behind to find meaning and love. Through their journey, they created the biggest private land handover in history, protecting almost 15 million acres of land against insurmountable odds. Conservation at this level and scale changes the world.”
— CHAI VASARHELYI & JIMMY CHIN, Directors/Producers
Directed and Produced By Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin
Produced and Edited by Bob Eisenhardt ACE
Produced By Anna Barnes
Executive Producer Carolyn Bernstein
Edited By Adam Kurnitz ACE
Directors of Photography Jimmy Chin, Clair Popkin