Kevin Macdonald to Direct Thai Cave Rescue Documentary

Director Kevin Macdonald
Director Kevin Macdonald and Channing Tatum on the set of ‘The Eagle’ (Photo © 2010 Focus Features)

Hot on the heels of their Oscar-winning success with Free Solo, National Geographic has greenlit a documentary feature film on the heroic 2018 Thai cave rescue. Oscar-winning director Kevin Macdonald (One Day in September) has committed to helming the documentary which promises to reveal never-before-seen footage of the rescue as well as interviews with those involved.

The National Geographic Documentary Films project is tentatively titled Thai Cave Rescue and will be produced by Emmy winner John Battsek (Manhunt: The Story of Bin Laden, One Day in September) and P.J. van Sandwijk (American Dharma). Michael Lesslie (Little Drummer Girl) is on board as an executive producer.

“This rescue mission is more than just a story of hope, it’s a story of humanity coming together,” explained Macdonald. “This film will represent a full 360-degree view of the crisis, told through unexpected angles and with untold stories.”

“The inherent drama of this rescue captured the attention of the world like few recent events have,” added producer 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.”

“I’ve 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’m elated to be working with him, John Battsek and P.J. van Sandwijk to help audiences better understand the complexities of this captivating story.”

Documentary Details, Courtesy of National Geographic Documentary Films:

“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.

Thai Cave Rescue (wt) 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.

Featuring exclusive access to British cave divers Richard Stanton and John Volanthen who were recently 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, in addition to 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 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.

All the divers have agreed on one thing: none of this would have been a success if it weren’t for the Thai people. Many sacrifices were made — engineers helped pump millions of gallons of water out, Thai farmers 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 and trusted, 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.”