What places this film, according to a jury majority, above its festival competitors, is not merely excellent camera work in the wall, the successful assembly of archive footage from multiple sources and a thrilling, poignant biography but also a trove of insights to take away for climbers and non-climbers alike. We are are watching the exceptional learning process of an exceptional character, his progress from lack-luster outsider to brilliant global climbing star, in spite of his physical handicap - a climber who, while mastering walls of extreme height and difficulty, always keeps his feet on the ground, remains unimpressed by media celebrity, never loses sight of his target and surprises with creative solutions.
In January 2015, two Americans gave rise to a world-wide media spectacle. Climber icon Tommy Caldwell and his roped partner Kevin Jorgeson wanted to achieve the impossible, that is, to climb the Dawn Wall, a thousand-metre-high rock face in the Yosemite National Park in California, that was considered to be unconquerable. Accompanied by the media, the two professional athletes spend almost three weeks in a camp on the rock face, eating, sleeping and climbing above a sheer drop of several hundreds of metres. For Tommy Caldwell, the Dawn Wall represents the apex of all obstacles he had to overcome in his life. In a balancing act between devotion and obsession, he tries to climb this route, together with his climbing partner Kevin Jorgeson. During the final attempt, Tommy must deal with the crucial question, whether to hold fast to his dream or to jeopardize his own success to save his friendship with Kevin.