- from Academy Award-winning director Kevin Macdonald and Emmy-winning producer John Battsek
- The film which will air in the Middle East at the same time as globally promises exclusive access and never-before-seen footage from the dramatic 2018 rescue of a youth soccer team trapped in flooding cave in Northern Thailand
Dubai, United Arab Emirates - May 09, 2019: Fresh from the success of its Academy-Award winning Free Solo film, National Geographic announced its newest documentary, this time on the extraordinary Thai Cave Rescue – a story that gripped the Middle East and the globe for many days in 2018.
National Geographic’s Thai Cave Rescue (working title) brings to life the harrowing story of the Thai soccer team trapped deep inside a flooding cave for over 14 days, and their successful release after many failed attempts. We relive how the Wild Boars youth soccer team’s impromptu trip to explore a system of caves on their way to a team mate’s birthday turned into a saga of survival and a story that would capture the attention of the whole world.
From Academy Award-winning director Kevin MacDonald and Emmy-winning producer John Battsek (“One Day in September”), National Geographic’s Thai Cave Rescue chronicles 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.”
The film, which will be aired in the Middle East at the same time as its US release in English and Arabic, brings to light the extraordinary courage of the 12 boys and their assistant coach as they fought for survival, after a cool June afternoon trip in the hilly region of northern Thailand turned into a living nightmare. It also highlights the imagination and determination displayed during the heroic endeavor. 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 this 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.”
The film is rich in authentic storytelling and educational knowledge featuring exclusive access to British cave divers Richard Stanton, John Volanthen, who were included in National Geographic’s 2019 list of Adventurers of the Year, along with Chris Jewell, Jason Mallinson, Connor Roe, Josh Bratchley and Jim Warny, and in-depth interviews with Australian divers Dr. Richard Harris and Craig Challen. Through interviews with a diverse array of local citizens, the film will also tell how the Thai people never lost hope, instead driving on until they reached a successful outcome.
National Geographic has achieved remarkable success in a very short amount of time. Most recently the critically acclaimed film, Free Solo won both the Academy Award and BAFTA for best documentary feature, in addition to Director's Guild of America, Cinema Audio Society, Motion Picture Sound Editors, US Critics’ Choice and Cinema Eye wins.
Last year, two films released under the documentary films’ banner, Jane and LA 92, made the Oscar short list for Best Documentary, and both won Emmys — LA 92 for Special Merit and Jane for Best Director and Best Cinematography. Additionally, in its premiere weekend, National Geographic’s 2018 Sundance and SXSW Audience Favorite Science Fair became the No. 1 new documentary film at the US box office for New York openings the weekend of September 14.