Synopsis: Adam Ondra is one of the best climbers today and a true virtuoso, who has tackled the world’s most difficult rocks and walls. A shy introvert-turned-famous-sports-icon, his desire to climb has changed into the obligation to win. As Adam prepares for sport climbing’s debut at the Olympics in Tokyo, we observe the influence of commercial pressure, mass media and the audience longing for a spectacle on both his personal life and the sport itself.
In contrast with the loneliness that accompanies Adam during his everyday training and with the nature that surrounds him when he climbs on the rocks, he now finds himself at the biggest sport event in the world. Here, at the Olympics, the slogan “participation is more important than winning” has long been replaced by “the winner takes it all”.
The many people who are part of Adam’s personal and professional world help him on his journey. But most importantly, there is his partner Iva, who is his biggest support. Herself a professional climber, she had to sacrifice a lot for Adam’s success, though. What is it like for her to live with a celebrity?
ADAM ONDRA: PUSHING THE LIMITS is a breathtaking, intimate look into the life and career of a man who is one with his passion.
We are both active climbers and filmmakers, and we have been irritated by the ever repeating
flattened media coverage of Adam, or climbers in general. We wanted to replace these marketing
clichés with a concentrated personal testimony about a person whose endless endeavour for
perfection can inspire a broader audience.
The trust of Adam that we won during the development of the film enabled us to capture Adam on a
personal level that often remains hidden behind the media coverage of him. To show the contrasting
image of the celebrity and the ordinary hard work of an introverted loner. We were also impressed
by Adam’s close bond with his family and especially his wife Iva who became a key protagonist of the
One of the important elements of our film is time, in its different symbolic meanings – the time of the
Olympic Games getting closer; time accurately measured in training; the unsatisfactory time in speed
climbing. Here, time is the symbol of competition, transformed into a unit of measurement of
athletic performance. On the other hand, rock climbing gives the impression of eternity. No one
removes the rocks after climbing: Adam returns repeatedly, waiting under the rocks for the ideal
conditions. Here, time plays almost no role.
Another remarkable fact that drew our attention is Adam’s frequent loneliness and, more specifically,
its “quality”, accompanied only by his cell phone that does not count how many “likes” he got but
instead counts down training intervals. He himself defines problems and fiercely looks for their
Jan Šimánek – director
Jan graduated from FAMU, Department of Photography. He is a photographer, documentary director and visual artist and also a passionate climber. Currently, he focuses on short films about rock climbers and has been regularly awarded at International Mountaineering film festivals. In the past he has shot with
Reinhold Messner, Doug Scott, Marek Holeček, Zdeněk Hák and many others.
2020 UFO Life, documentary short, 34’
Winner Best Documentary Award and Audience
Award at IMFF Teplice nad Metují 2020; Best
Documentary Award at Exo Echo Mountain FF 2020
2018 From a Hammer to a Drill, documentary short, 31’
Winner Audience Award at IMFF Teplice nad Metují
2018; Best Documentary Awards at IMFF Krakow
2018, IMFF Leipzig 2018 and IMFF Poprad 2018
Petr Záruba – director
Petr graduated from the Department of Documentary Film at FAMU. In his previous films, he focused on artists and topics related to nature and landscape. His feature debut, ‘Traces of a
Landscape’, premiered at Visions du Réel IFF 2020 and was awarded the Student Jury Award at Jihlava IDFF, Best Documentary at Elbe Dock IFF and the Cameraman Association’s Award for best Documentary Camera.
2020 Traces of a Landscape, feature documentary, 67’
2018 Report about Great War, Czech TV series
2016 Of the Near and the Distant, short student film, 10’, FAMU
Evald Schorm Award at AFO FF