Thai Cave Rescue is the working title of a film of the dramatic 2018 cave rescue of a Thai Soccer Team. It promises exclusive access and never-before-seen footage from the event.

British cave-diver John Volanthen walks out from the Tham Luang Nang Non Thai cave rescue in Chiang Rai. Picture: Linh Pham/Getty Images
British cave-diver John Volanthen walks out from the Tham Luang Nang Non Thai cave rescue in Chiang Rai. Picture: Linh Pham/Getty Images

Following the success of Free Solo, which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, National Geographic Documentary Films has announces its next feature project.

The upcoming release, which will document the 2018 rescue of the players trapped deep inside a flooding cave, is from Academy Award-winning director Kevin MacDonald (One Day in September), Emmy-winning producer John Battsek (Manhunt: The Story of Bin Laden, One Day in September), producer P.J. van Sandwijk (American Dharma) and executive producer Michael Lesslie (Little Drummer Girl).

The Wild Boars soccer team

On a cool June afternoon in the hilly region of northern Thailand, the Wild Boars youth soccer team was finishing practice early so that they could attend a teammate’s birthday party. Before heading to the party, the 12 boys and their assistant coach decided to explore a nearby system of caves — an outing that transformed into a two-week-long saga of survival and a story that would capture the attention of the world.

The Thai Cave Rescue film will chronicle the perilous world of cave diving, the bravery of the rescuers and the dedication of an entire community that made great sacrifices to save these young boys. “This rescue mission is more than just a story of hope, it’s a story of humanity coming together,” said MacDonald. “This film will represent a full 360° view of the crisis, told through unexpected angles and with untold stories.”

British cave divers

Featuring exclusive access to British cave divers Richard Stanton, John Volanthen, who were included in National Gegraphic’s 2019 list of Adventurers of the Year, along with Chris Jewell, Jason Mallinson, Connor Roe, Josh Bratchley and Jim Warny, along with in-depth interviews with Australian divers Dr. Richard Harris and Craig Challen, the film will bring to light the imagination and determination displayed during the heroic endeavour.

Unlike most diving experiences, in which one relies on a team, once these divers were in the water they were on their own — completely dependent on their gear, always knowing that if it failed, that would be the end. There was no turning back — life or death was literally a breath of air away.

“The inherent drama of the Thai Cave Rescue captured the attention of the world like few recent events have,” explained Battsek. “As producers, for P.J. and I to now have the opportunity to tell this remarkable story in partnership with the team at National Geographic Documentary Films, who have been responsible for some of the most successful and impactful feature documentaries of recent times, is extremely exciting.”

Millions of gallons of water out pumped out

All the divers have agreed on one thing: none of this would have been a success if it were not for the Thai people. Many sacrifices were made — engineers helped pump millions of gallons of water out, Thai famers lost their crops and hundreds of volunteers worked day and night to help in any way they could.

Similarly, Thai officials, the strong backbone of the entire operation who everyone greatly respected, was essential to its success. Through interviews with a diverse array of local citizens, the film will tell how the Thai people never lost hope, instead driving on until they reached a successful outcome.

“I have long admired Kevin MacDonald’s artistic vision and virtuosity when it comes to authentic storytelling,” said Carolyn Bernstein, EVP of Scripted Content and Documentary Films for National Geographic. “I am elated to be working with him, John Battsek and P.J. van Sandwijk to help audiences better understand the complexities of this captivating story.”

“The Thai cave rescue had South Africans riveted, and glued to the media for updates. I am sure the film will capture their attention in the same way. After the success of Jane, and Free Solo in our market, we look forward to another exceptional production from National Geographic Documentary Films” said Evert Van Der Veer, GM, and VP Fox Networks Group: Africa.

What: Thai Cave Rescue Nat Geo documentary
Where: National Geographic – Nat Geo screening date pending
National Geographic Documentary Films: natgeotv.com or nationalgeographic.com
WS