Already making a splash on the festival circuit with a Telluride premiere followed by Toronto later this month is “The Rescue.” “Free Solo” Oscar winners Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin detail the harrowing 2018 rescue of the Thai soccer team trapped in a cave for 16 days. National Geographic and Greenwich Entertainment will release the film in theaters this October. Watch the trailer below.
Per the official synopsis, “The film chronicles the enthralling, against-all-odds story that transfixed the world in 2018: the daring rescue of 12 boys and their coach from deep inside a flooded cave in northern Thailand. Academy Award-winning directors and producers E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin keep viewers on the edge of their seats as they use a wealth of never-before-seen material and exclusive interviews to piece together the high-stakes mission, highlight the efforts of the Royal Thai Navy SEALs and U.S. Special Forces, and detail the expert cave divers’ audacious venture to save the boys.”
The film features interviews with critical rescue and support teams, including British cave divers Richard Stanton and John Volanthen; Colonel Bhak Loharjun, the chief medical officer of the Royal Thai Army; Thanet Natisri, a groundwater expert based in Thailand during the rescue; and other additional cavers and divers.
IndieWire spoke to the filmmaking team ahead of Telluride about how they had to think outside the box to get the movie made, and found themselves in a messy battle over the rights. “This film was always about working around what we didn’t have,” Vasarhelyi said.
“There are very few non-fiction accounts that do well by Asian protagonists,” Vasarhelyi said. “There are really very few that are positive. A lot of them are about positive strength in an Asian environment. This was one of those stories.”
From IndieWire’s review of the film: “The documentary’s ample suspense is never so overwhelming that it obscures this story’s poignant sentiment, nor is the selfless heroism on display so overwrought that it washes away the bittersweet aftertaste ‘The Rescue’ leaves behind. Yes, Vasarhelyi and Chin have cobbled together a true life men-on-a-mission movie intense enough that even Michael Bay and Peter Berg should be able to recognize that no mega-budget dramatization could match up to it. But ‘The Rescue’ ultimately isn’t as fraught a story of people coming together to save 13 strangers from certain death as it is one about why people can’t be moved to save 130 million strangers from a similar fate. It’s a portrait of incredible generosity that leaves behind a visceral understanding of where that generosity ends.”