Byron Bay Film Festival will close with The Cave, the film that tells a story that will be familiar to nearly everyone – the 2018 rescue of the Wild Boars football team from an underground cave in Northern Thailand, where they had been trapped by floodwaters caused by early monsoon rains.
The tension felt as the world waited for a happy against-the-odds ending was almost unbearable. “Like everyone else on the planet, I was following the news of the 12 boys and their coach with much anticipation,” says The Cave’s writer, director and co-producer,” Tom Waller.
Having its Australian Premiere at the Byron Bay Film Festival, The Cave captures all of the drama and suspense of the situation – despite the audience knowing ‘what happens’.
People power and authenticity drive this, which had all the elements of a suspense movie, except in real life: a daring mission, impossible odds, and a happy ending. Without comprising the inherent tension, Waller focuses on the human element, showcasing a wide range of the estimated 10,000 people involved in the rescue.
Several key participants portray themselves in this retelling, adding to its verisimilitude. With Hollywood versions inbound, it’s appropriate that a Thai adaptation came first. This impressive film is likely to be the definitive realization.
“People around the world watched the events unfold and their hearts were beating collectively,” Waller says. I realized that as a Thai filmmaker I was in a unique position to tell this story. My film focuses on the volunteer spirit of the rescuers, following the untold personal stories of those unsung heroes involved in the mission to bring out the 13 alive. It was a Thai emergency, but the whole world tuned in and tried to help.”
With no contact for more than a week, more heavy rain expected and the situation becoming increasingly desperate, the international community leapt into action. Six AFP Special Response Group personnel, a Navy Clearance diver and Australian cave diving specialists Richard Harris and Craig Challen played prominent roles among the more than 10,000 people who were involved.
All nine were awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia “for service to the international community through their specialist response roles” and in January this year, Dr. Challen and Dr. Harris were named Australians of the Year.