Sixteen months after the dramatic rescue of the Wild Boars arrested the world’s attention, Thai audiences will be the first to see its screen translation when it gets its worldwide premiere here in November.
The Cave, aka Nang Non, will get a wide release in Thai cinemas on Nov. 28, the film’s Irish-Thai filmmaker said today as his production house dropped a one-minute teaser for the film. While the broad strokes of the rescue are well-known from last year’s intense media coverage, Waller said much more of the saga went unreported and will be told for the first time by the film.
“We know the boys got stuck in a cave, and we know how they got out,” Waller told Coconuts Bangkok. “It’s how they did it that’s intriguing.”
Don’t expect Jason Statham punching his way through stone in some kind of Hollywood corruption. To keep true to the story, Waller relied heavily on direct accounts from those involved.
The film features real-life participants such as Belgian diver Jim Warny and pivotal Thai rescue figure Nopadol Niyomka “as themselves.” In full conflict-o’-interest disclosure, Coconuts Bangkok Managing Editor Todd Ruiz filmed several scenes for the film.
Waller said that unlike previous films such as 2014’s Last Executioner that he toiled away on quietly and then struggled to build buzz for, making The Cave has put him “under a microscope.”
Indeed, his is the first film about the events to hit the big screen. And telling it through those involved meant a certain independence from “official channels.”
A number of production teams have been rebuffed by the Thai government, which locked down access to the boys in the aftermath of the rescue. Earlier this year, the Culture Ministry announced it had sold the exclusive rights to a multinational production company that would make a series for Netflix helmed by Bad Genius director Nattawut “Baz” Poonpiriya and Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu.
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The film features an international cast and was primarily shot on location throughout Thailand. Although access to the actual cave has been all but forbidden, Waller won access to do some filming inside the Luang cave, also called Nang Non.
The teaser promises dark and claustrophobic cave scenes, including respirator-gurgling shots from underwater. Yes, that climactic “How many of you? Thirteen!” moment is in there, too.
It will premiere in North America on Oct. 8 at the Vancouver International Film Festival. In Europe, it will open Oct. 11 at the BFI London Film Festival.