Freedom is defined as the power of self-determination attributed to the will; the quality of being independent of fate or necessity, as Olympic freestyle skier Jossi Wells learns when he partners with The Flying Frenchies for the adventure of a lifetime in a breathtaking documentary The Free Man.
To reach the level of liberty encapsulated by the concept of being truly free is both a physical and mental endeavour that many will risk their life to obtain. Is life worth risking for the feeling of conquering fear and becoming truly free? These are the questions Jossi Wells must ask himself as he meets extreme sports performance artists, The Flying Frenchies, and takes on the challenge of his lifetime thousands of metres above the ground.
The film is directed by Toa Fraser (Dean Spanley, Giselle) and the first thing that stands out are the beautiful cinematic shots of New Zealand and France, which brings the dizzy heights of base jumping and highlining to our homes, this also brings in the world of extreme sports to those that have no idea of the dangers that lie ahead in the sport.
The Free Man is as beautifully shot film and its also quite nerve-wracking as we are shown shots of The Flying Frenchies on high lines stretched across the void of a mountain top, not one a moment that is easy to watch if you are scared of heights.the film offers a rare insight into the story of men who push themselves to the point of no return; men who quite literally stare into the abyss and who embrace the fact that any moment at the top of a peak or on the face of a cliff could be their last.
The film offers a rare insight into the story of men who push themselves to the point of no return; men who quite literally stare into the abyss and who embrace the fact that any moment at the top of a peak or on the face of a cliff could be their last.
With the dangers of what they do, Jossi Wells embarks on a journey with The Flying Frenchies to learn the skills that they have in walking the high line, something not for the faint of heart, Jossi is taken from baby steps to the dizzying heights of the mountains in all kinds of weather, including a line placed in low visibility and a what only appears to be an incoming snowstorm to thwart his attempts at standing on the line at such a height!
We are taken on the journey with Jossi as we learn about when he started skiing, the injuries he has had during his career in extreme sports and his outlook on fear, The Free Man is a journey through the world of fear and excitement, it’s fascinating to see what these men put their bodies through for what they love.
As mentioned earlier, Jossi is being helped along with The Flying Frenchies, we learn more about their fun way of dressing as clowns to perform their love of what they do, we also learn more about Tancrede Melet, who was an expert slackliner, base jumper and wing-suitor, we see him performing his work and enjoying every moment of what he did. Sadly Tancrede lost his life while preparing to perform a hot air balloon stunt in southern France, this is where the film becomes very emotional, he was on 32 when he died.
Produced by Matthew Metcalfe (Beyond The Edge, McLaren) in his fifth collaboration with Toa Fraser, The Free Man is a film that once seen, is impossible to forget, I found the film fascinating to watch, not only is it interesting and very thought-provoking, but the visuals and production of the film are stunning, this is a documentary that had me gripped from start to finish.
The Free Man is available on digital download April 10th and on DVD April 24th, and can be pre-ordered now from Amazon