Annette Bening and Jodie Foster dive into the dangerous waters of the Florida Straits, in this film based on the true story of the woman who, at the age of 64, became the first person to swim from Cuba to the US without a shark cage.
Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin
Annette Bening and Jodie Foster star in this film depicting the true story of Diana Nyad’s attempt to become the first person to swim from Cuba to the US without a shark cage, decades after her retirement from the sport.
At the age of 60, Nyad (Bening) is frustrated about the way she left her swimming career behind and starts training once again to do the marathon swim she failed 30 years prior. Her best friend, Bonnie Stoll (Foster), thinks it's a little foolish, but has no choice except to jump in as her coach once it becomes clear that Nyad isn’t backing down. When navigator John Bartlett (Rhys Ifans, also at the Festival in Mother Couch) comes on board with the project, they finally have someone to guide her through the shark-infested waters of the Florida Straits. The arduous swim takes a shocking toll on her body, and Nyad’s obsession starts to wear on the team. Through flashbacks, we start to get a peek into her past and the trauma she’s fighting against.
Directors Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin are no strangers to extreme endeavours, using their documentary background from Free Solo (TIFF ’18) and The Rescue (TIFF ’21) to help frame this voyage with archival material where we get to see and hear a young Diana Nyad dive into her passion. But she couldn’t have done it alone, and the film is ultimately a story of friendship, brought powerfully to life by Bening and Foster, two incredible actors that have had their own storied careers. NYAD is an ode to the people that help us make the journey to where we need to be.
Official Selection, 2023 Toronto International Film Festival
Content advisory: accident trauma, mature themes