Nyad: An interview with Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Bonnie Stoll at London Film Festival 2023
In line with the recent expansion of their sports programming, Netflix’s newest swimming biopic almost feels like a spiritual follow-up to their 2022 submission to the London Film Festival The Swimmers. While the latter told the story of Syrian sisters Yusra and Sarah Mardini crossing the Aegean Sea to reach safety in Europe, Nyad is a dramatisation of Diana Nyad’s record-breaking swim from Cuba to Florida.
Directors Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin focus on Nyad’s resilience and combative spirit and therefore disregard a more formulaic composition to the genre. The feature starts with Nyad’s 60th birthday and chronicles her comeback. Instead of casting several actors to portray the characters at different stages of their lives or using CGI to de-age the stars, real archive material provides the footage whenever a flashback was deemed necessary. Nyad proves that lively comedic moments can go hand in hand with the dramatic, and the dazzling swim scenes acknowledge the physical and mental strain of being in the water for days at a time.
Showcasing nothing short of Oscar-worthy performances, Annette Bening plays the titular character, while Jodie Foster embodies Nyad’s best friend and trainer Bonnie Stoll.
The Upcoming spoke to one half of the filmmaker duo, Vasarhelyi, as well as the real Bonnie Stoll. The two women shared invaluable insights into story and casting choices, and discussed Alexandre Desplat’s outstanding score that facilitates the audience’s ability to relate to Nyad’s state of mind during her feat.
Nyad is in select UK cinemas on 20th October and on Netflix from 3rd November 2023. Read our review here.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2023 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for Nyad here: