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FLY (2024)

Runtime: 120 minutes.
Release Date: 03/10/24 [Festival Run] 

Studio: National Geographic Documentary Films.

[Seen at SXSW 2024]

"Swashbuckling CNN combat camerawoman, Margaret Moth, risks it all to put the viewer inside the conflict. When a fateful injury gets in the way of her appetite for danger and adrenaline, Moth must find the strength to carry on."


Directors Christina Clusiau and Shaul Schwartz spent six years filming a small community of BASE jumpers and somehow whittled down thousands of hours of footage into just one-hundred and twenty minutes. And every single minute is as thrilling as the last. 


Clusiau and Schwartz follow three couples who engage in BASE jumping. It’s an adrenaline pumping sport where jumpers leap from high points like cliffs, buildings, or bridges armed only with a parachute and/or a wingsuit (a webbed jump suit) that also allows them to jump from mountains and glide down. We’re introduced to Marta and Jimmy, an older couple who have mentored many of the younger jumpers. Marta is more measured and careful and taught Jimmy how to jump when they first met. Jimmy is known for his big personality and constantly pushes the boundaries with his jumps. They’re the de facto leaders of the BASE jumping community and their parental personas make it easy to see how jumpers find family among each other. 


Amber and Espen are younger and we watch as Espen (the more experienced jumper) helps Amber reach new heights (literally) in the sport. We witness her first jump attempt with a wingsuit and there’s something endearing about how they cheer each other on while simultaneously challenging one another to try new things. And finally we meet Scotty, a bit of a renegade who doesn’t believe in paying rent and crashes wherever there’s an open mattress. Scotty goes through the biggest transformation after meeting his partner Julia and his inner journey is the most drastic of all the couples. What ties the three couples together is their love of BASE jumping. Most of their life is devoted to finding new dizzying heights to leap from. 


Clusiau and Schwartz are able to capture some truly amazing footage of the jumpers. First we see their view from the top of cliffs and bridges. The height of the starting point is enough to make your stomach swoop despite being firmly seated and staring at a screen. And then there’s a moment of calm silence as they prepare themselves for the jump. This is followed by a usually softly muttered, “Three, two, one.” And then they fling themselves into the abyss. 


The most impactful scenes come towards the beginning of the movie where we follow jumpers in wingsuits as they fly down a mountain side at lightning fast speeds. The sounds of them whizzing by the camera are deafening, giving you a true sense of just how fast they’re going. They combine these shots with GoPro footage from the jumpers themselves, so we see what they’re seeing as they fly. For most of us, this feeling is something we can barely imagine. But we get a front row seat to the experience with Fly


The footage provides the wow factor for Fly, but the couples’ stories provide the heart. We watch as they battle through personal struggles and overcome huge challenges. When they experience heartbreak, so do we. These are real people who have made this sport their whole lives. And Clusiau and Schwartz don’t shy away from showing just how dangerous it is to take flight. We see the very real consequences of jumps gone wrong, but through a sympathetic lens that doesn’t vilify those participating. BASE jumping has long been a controversial sport, but Fly shines a light on the humans at the heart of it. 


And while most of us will never wear a wingsuit or jump off a bridge and pull a parachute cord, for two hours we get to imagine what it might feel like to take flight. It’s beautiful. It's terrifying. And Clusiau and Schwartz emphasize the most important part of the sport, which is experiencing the joys of being human at the highest levels.

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