Directors Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin discuss Nyad

October 29, 2023 DGA Membership Screening Q&As in LA & NY

A long-distance swimmer sets out to achieve a lifelong goal in Directors Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin’s biographical sports drama, Nyad.

Vasarhelyi and Chin’s film tells the remarkable true story of how of 60-year-old athlete Diana Nyad, who with the help of her best friend and coach, committed herself to achieving her dream of a 110-mile open ocean swim from Cuba to Florida.

On October 14, after the DGA membership screening in Los Angeles, Vasarhelyi and Chin discussed the making of Nyad during a Q&A moderated by Director Lisa Cholodenko (The Kids Are All Right). They also spoke about the film in a conversation moderated by Director Tobias Lindholm (The Good Nursefollowing the New York screening on October 29.

During the Los Angeles conversation, Vasarhelyi and Chin spoke about how their filmmaking is an extension of their relationship.

“I think that every movie we make is my exploration into Jimmy,” said Chai. “I mean Jimmy is still a professional climber. He pushes those boundaries and it’s really special to have the opportunity to bring that kind of authenticity to these types of stories. Diana’s story is about how she moved through certain challenges and this friendship that provides the beating heart of the film. This is what defines humanity. This audacity. This will. This refusal to accept a limit.” Chin concurred, saying, “Like Chai said, these stories appeal to us because we have a certain connection to them. I think Chai has a connection to this story from one point of view. And I have a connection to it maybe through a different point of view. I totally get her [Nyad].”

Vasarhelyi and Chin’s other directorial credits include the feature length documentaries Wild Life and Return to Space; and episodes of the documentary series Edge of the Unknown with Jimmy Chin and Op-Docs. They have been nominated three times for the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary for their features The Rescue (2021), Free Solo (2018) and Meru (2015). They also won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for Free Solo.

Vasarhelyi and Chin have been DGA members since 2016.


Q&A photos by Quintin Lundy  (LA) & Ryan Jensen (NY) – Print courtesy of Netflix

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