Last night, the feature-length documentary film The Wall – Climb for Gold made its global premiere in New York City. It’s getting rave reviews from those who’ve seen it, and will be available to stream in the New Year.
The International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) published a press release on about the film: The film follows four of Sport Climbing’s first female Olympians on their journey to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, where the sport made its Olympic debut earlier this year. In the two years approaching the Games, the athletes battle through Olympic qualifying events, face an intense season of competitions and training, before having their dreams and plans put on hold as the COVID-19 pandemic forces the postponement of the Olympics. Providing an intimate portrait into the lives of Great Britain’s Shauna Coxsey, Japan’s Miho Nonaka, Slovenia’s Janja Garnbret, and the USA’s Brooke Raboutou, the documentary reveals inspiring insight into what it means to be a climber, an Olympian, and ultimately, what it means to be human.
With six World Championship titles and 31 IFSC World Cup gold medals under her belt, Slovenian Sport Climbing sensation Janja Garnbret is one of the most decorated climbers to date, aged just 22. After making history in 2019 by sweeping the entire IFSC Boulder World Cup season, the Slovenian broke another barrier in 2021, becoming one of the first Olympic gold medallists in Sport Climbing alongside Spain’s Alberto Ginés López. Garnbret’s superpower is performing well under pressure, remembering to be present in the moment and enjoy the climb.
Competing on home soil at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, 2018 IFSC Boulder World Cup Champion Miho Nonaka fought to overcome the added pressure of representing her country in her home city, climbing onto the second step of the Olympic podium with a silver medal.
One of Sport Climbing’s youngest Olympians competing in Tokyo, Brooke Raboutou balances training with university studies. Born into a family of climbing legends, with her mother Robyn Erbesfield-Raboutou and father Didier Raboutou taking numerous IFSC World Cup titles in the 1990’s, Brooke hopes to continue the family success.
IFSC Boulder World Cup Champion in both 2016 and 2017, Shauna Coxsey MBE is one of Britain’s most successful athletes on the Sport Climbing circuit. Suffering a series of serious injuries over the last few years, Coxsey is experienced in hard work, perseverance, and coming back stronger each time.
The Wall is further summarized on the IFSC website. The short blurb describes a story of “gruelling” determination bent toward a shared goal. “As the young women confront their own mental and physical demons in route to Tokyo, the film reveals an astonishing and inspiring insight into what it takes to be an Olympian and ultimately what it means to be human.”
Perhaps one of the most beautiful aspects of this film comes from what it means for athletes still involved in the sport. While the Games were undoubtedly massive for climbing, premiere-based films such as The Wall will bring climbing to a large audience.
The six-stop premiere schedule will build greater interest over the weeks preceding its digital release. Although many of us will have to wait until January 2022 to watch the film ourselves, this pre-release speaks volumes louder than some of the most famous competition films of our time.
Where old-schoolers may remember films such as Progression, one of the first climbing films to describe “modern” competition preparation, its release had a magnitude in-line with the popularity of the sport in 2009. We have come a long way since then.
IFSC Secretary General Debra Gawrych attended the New York Premiere and reflected on the experience. “It was a fantastic evening,” Gawrych said, “and Brooke was the shining star of the event. I believe the film will catapult our sport to new heights with spectators all over the world. It shows how hard these four women worked, how they had to work through failures and then succeed – if not to win the gold or podium, even to succeed in life. It shows the support of their families and is beautiful from a cinematic aspect as well. I was blown away.”
Raboutou attended the event with her family and answered questions following the viewing. Coxsey and Nonaka will also field questions upon the premieres in their respective countries.
Nov. 18: New York City (USA), The Explorers Club, ft. Q&A with Brooke Raboutou
Nov. 20: Kendal (GBR), Kendal Mountain Festival, ft. Q&A with Shauna Coxsey
Nov. 25: Tokyo (JPN), Ikebukuro Humax, ft. Q&A with Miho Nonaka
Nov. 30: Nuremburg (GER), Café Kraft
Dec. 2: Munich (GER), Filmtheater Sendlinger Tor
Dec. 8: Ljubljana (SLO), Cukrarna Gallery
The film will be released in January. You can watch the trailer here: