National Geographic Documentary Films announces feature-length documentary about Thai cave rescue from Academy Award-winning director Kevin Macdonald and Emmy-winning producer John Battsek

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Following the success of Free Solo, which won the Best Documentary Feature Oscar earlier this week, National Geographic Documentary Films announces the green light for its next feature film project. The upcoming film, which will document the spectacular 2018 rescue of a Thai football team trapped deep in a flooded cave, is from Academy Award-winning director Kevin Macdonald (“One Day in September”), award-winning producer an Emmy winner John Battsek (“Manhunt: The Bin Laden Story,” “One Day in September”), producer PJ van Sandwijk (“American Dharma”) and executive producer Michael Lesslie (“Little Drummer Girl”).

On a chilly June afternoon in the hilly region of northern Thailand, the Wild Boars youth soccer team was finishing training early so 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 cave system – an outing that turned into a two-week survival saga and an attention-grabbing story of the world.

Thai Cave Rescue (wt) will chronicle the perilous world of cave diving, the bravery of rescuers and the dedication of an entire community who made great sacrifices to save these young boys. “This rescue mission is more than just a story of hope, it’s a story of humanity coming together,” Macdonald said. “This film will represent a 360-degree view of the crisis, told from unexpected angles and with never-before-seen stories.”

With exclusive access to British cave divers Richard Stanton and John Volanthen who were recently included in National Geographic’s Adventurers of the Year 2019 list, along with Chris Jewell, Jason Mallinson, Connor Roe, Josh Bratchley and Jim Warny, plus With detailed interviews with Australian divers Dr Richard Harris and Craig Challen, the film will highlight the imagination and determination displayed during the heroic effort. Unlike most diving experiences, where a team is relied upon, once these divers were in the water, they were on their own – completely dependent on their equipment, always knowing that if it failed it would be the end. There was no turning back – life or death was literally a breath away.

“The drama inherent in this rescue has captured the world’s attention as few recent events have,” Battsek said. “As producers, for PJ and I, now having 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-length documentaries of recent times, is extremely exciting. .”

All divers agree on one thing: none of this would have been a success without the Thais. Many sacrifices were made – engineers helped pump millions of gallons of water, Thai farmers lost their crops, and hundreds of volunteers worked day and night to help in any way they could. Likewise, the Thai officials, the backbone of the whole operation, whom everyone respected and trusted, were essential to its success. Through interviews with a wide range of local citizens, the film will tell how the Thai people never gave up hope, instead they kept going until they achieved a positive outcome.

The film was born with Storyteller Productions® and its producers PJ van Sandwijk and Michael Lesslie, who approached Kevin Macdonald after news of the rescue mission’s success and later secured the rights to the British divers. This film marks the second production in a long-term strategic partnership between Storyteller Productions and Passion Pictures.

“I have long admired Kevin Macdonald’s artistic vision and virtuosity in authentic storytelling,” said Carolyn Bernstein, executive vice president of scripted content and documentary films for National Geographic. “I am delighted to work with him, John Battsek and PJ van Sandwijk to help audiences better understand the complexities of this gripping story.”

National Geographic Documentary Films achieved remarkable success in a very short time. More recently, the critically acclaimed film Free Solo won both the Oscar and BAFTA for Best Documentary Feature, in addition to CAS, MPSE, Critics’ Choice and Cinema Eye awards. Last year, two films released under the banner of documentary cinema, Joan
and THE 92, made the Oscars short list for Best Documentary, and both won Emmys – THE 92 for special merit and Joan for Best Director and Best Cinematography. Additionally, in its first weekend, National Geographic’s 2018 Sundance and SXSW Audience Favorite science fair became the No. 1 new documentary film at the box office for New York City openings the weekend of September 14.

For more information, visit or our press site, or follow us on Twitter using @NGC_PR.

About National Geographic Documentary Films

National Geographic Partners LLC (NGP), a joint venture between National Geographic and 21st Century Fox, is committed to bringing the world premium science, adventure and exploration content through an unparalleled portfolio of assets media. NGP combines National Geographic’s global television channels (National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo WILD, Nat Geo MUNDO, Nat Geo PEOPLE) with National Geographic media and consumer assets, including National Geographic magazines; National Geographic Studios; related digital and social media platforms; books; Blueprints; children’s media; and ancillary activities which include travel, global experiences and events, archival sales, licensing and e-commerce activities. Deepening knowledge and understanding of our world has been National Geographic’s primary purpose for 131 years, and now we are committed to reaching further, to pushing the boundaries, to reaching further for our consumers…and to reaching people. million people around the world in 172 countries and 43 languages ​​every month like we do. NGP donates 27% of our profits to the non-profit National Geographic Society to fund work in science, exploration, conservation and education. For more information, visit or, or find us on Facebook, TwitterInstagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

About Passion Pictures

Passion Pictures’ first feature-length documentary, ‘One Day in September’, was conceived and produced by John Battsek and won an Oscar in 1999. Passion has been at the forefront of producing feature-length documentaries ever since, such as evidenced by a prolific string of multi-award winning films, a reputation for securing international theatrical releases and – as of 2019 – an unprecedented 14 consecutive year film premiere at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival. Notable tracks include “Restrepo”, “The Tillman Story”, “The Imposter”, “Sergio”, “Searching for Sugar Man”, “Winter on Fire”, “Listen to Me Marlon” and “Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars”. – these and other films have seen Passion collaborate with some of the most exciting filmmakers, writers, journalists, editors, composers, cinematographers and production partners working in the industry today.

About Storyteller Productions®

Founded by Michael Lesslie and PJ van Sandwijk, Storyteller Productions®
focuses on high-end television and film projects with great diversity and global appeal. What sets Storyteller Productions apart is its global reach and ability to fund development entirely in-house. The company has amassed an extraordinary roster and developed unique relationships with some of the industry’s most sought-after filmmakers.

Comments are closed.