VIDEO: First film about Thai cave rescue to premiere this weekend

“The Cave” is set to debut at the Busan Film Festival in South Korea

In this Sept. 16, 2019, photo, “The Cave” movie director Tom Waller gestures during an interview with The Associated Press in Bangkok, Thailand. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Their story gripped the world: determined divers racing against time and water to rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach trapped for more than two weeks in a flooded cave deep inside a northern Thai mountain.

The ordeal in late June and early July 2018 had barely ended when filmmakers began their own race to get the nail-biting drama onto cinema screens. The first of those projects will premiere this weekend, when director Tom Waller’s “The Cave” shows at the Busan Film Festival in South Korea.

The film was shot over three months earlier this year and has been in post-production since then. The 45-year-old Thai-born, British-raised filmmaker said the epic tale of the Wild Boars football team was a story he simply had to tell.

The boys and their coach entered the Tham Luang cave complex after soccer practice and were quickly trapped inside by rising floodwater. Despite a massive search, the boys spent nine nights lost in the cave before they were spotted by an expert diver. It would take another eight days before they were all safe.

PHOTOS: Event marks one year since soccer team rescued from Thai cave

Waller was visiting his father in Ireland when he saw television news accounts of the drama.

“I thought this would be an amazing story to tell on screen,” he said.

But putting the parts together after their dramatic rescue proved to be a challenge. Thailand’s government, at the time led by a military junta, became very protective of the story, barring unauthorized access to the Wild Boars or their parents. Waller often feared his production might be shut down.

His good fortune was that the events at the Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai province had multiple angles and interesting characters. Especially compelling were the stories of the rescuers, particularly the expert divers who rallied from around the world. He decided to make a film “about the volunteer spirit of the rescue.”

Other people proposed telling the story from the point of view of the boys, and Netflix nailed down those rights in a deal brokered by the Thai government.

“I took the view that this was going to be a story about the people we didn’t know about, about the cave divers who came all the way from across the planet,” Waller said. “They literally dropped everything to go and help, and I just felt that that was more of an exciting story to tell, to find out how these boys were brought out and what they did to get them out.”

Waller even had more than a dozen key rescue personnel play themselves.

Waller said they were natural actors, blending in almost seamlessly with the professionals around them, and helped by the accuracy of the settings and the production’s close attention to detail.

“What you are really doing is asking them to remember what they did and to show us what they were doing and what they were feeling like at the time,” he said. “That was really very emotional for some of them because it was absolutely real.”

READ MORE: B.C. hometown lauds cave diver for role in Thai rescue

“The Cave” goes on general release in Thailand on Nov. 28.

Tassanee Vejpongsa And Jerry Harmer, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

In this undated photo released by Royal Thai Navy on Saturday, July 7, 2018, Thai rescue teams arrange water pumping system at the entrance to a flooded cave complex where 12 boys and their soccer coach have been trapped since June 23, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. (Royal Thai Navy via AP)

In this undated photo released by Royal Thai Navy on Saturday, July 7, 2018, Thai rescue teams arrange water pumping system at the entrance to a flooded cave complex where 12 boys and their soccer coach have been trapped since June 23, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. (Royal Thai Navy via AP)

Just Posted

Sentencing date set for Oak Bay father convicted of killing his two daughters

Andrew Berry was found guilty of two counts of second-degree murder last month

Cruise ships leading culprits in rising greenhouse gas emissions at Ogden Point: report

The GVHA released its Emissions Inventory Report just days after City asks for restrictions

Saanich man charged in cross-border drug smuggling operation pleads guilty

William Milton Barnes was charged following a six-month joint investigation

Langford woman charged after allegedly racking up $10,000 in loans using stolen identity

A 32-year-old Langford woman faces theft, fraud, and impersonation charges

Head of Vancouver Island Regional Library system calls Sidney’s claims ‘problematic’

Rosemary Bonanno says the Library Act gives Sidney an ‘exit strategy’

WATCH: Greater Victoria’s top stories of the day

A round-up of the day’s top stories

POLL: Do you think the day of the federal election should be a statutory holiday?

Increasing voter turnout has long been a goal of officials across the… Continue reading

Fatal overdoses down by 33% in B.C., but carfentanil deaths continue to spike

Carfentanil, an illicit drug more powerful than fentanyl, causing more deaths than ever

Brothers in Cowichan Valley win big in lottery for second time

Playing same numbers net big wins over a three year period

B.C. woman finds mysterious coin among Grandma’s collection

Grandmother died when she was very young and her past is not well known to her mother

Report of gunshots leads to discovery of deceased male in Campbell River

Police conduct investigation in the south end of Campbell River

Pot use admission at U.S. border snagging Canadian boomers, says lawyer

A waiver to enter the U.S. can cost $2,000 and isn’t a guarantee

Health concerns over vaping cast haze over Canadian cannabis market expansion

More than 1,000 people in the United States, and a handful in Canada, have developed a lung ailment

Most Read