Cave rescue site reopens as Nat Geo film premiers

A cave in northern Thailand where international teams rescued 12 young soccer players and their coach in 2018 reopened to the public last week as a National Geographic documentary about the life-and-death mission premiered in theaters across the U.S.

A flash flood at the Chiang Rai province’s cave complex in 2018 trapped 12 young boys from the Wild Boar soccer team and their coach. Stranded more than 200 yards from its entrance, hopes for saving them were slim. Thai and foreign soldiers – including Americans – rescue workers, cave divers and other experts flew in from around the world to try and get them out.

One Thai Special Forces soldier perished during the rescue. Ultimately, tragedy was averted and all the boys and their coach were carried out alive. The rescue was technically complex and extremely dangerous.

Once all the boys made it out safely, authorities closed the cave complex to the public, but reopened it last week to supervised visits.

Also last week, a documentary entitled “The Rescue” about the valiant mission to save the boys premiered in theaters across the U.S. Financed by National Geographic, filmmakers Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and her husband Jimmy Chin told the New York Times that they thought they had finished their film more than once when new, previously unknown footage was found.

“It is like a dream come true for a nonfiction filmmaker. It was also a nightmare,” Vasarhelyi said, referring to any missing scenes. “It is like the code of nonfiction: if it is out there, we have to try everything to get it.”

“The process of this has been so intense,” Chin said. “We do want to represent what was really important and we have been digging at this thing for three years trying to make it right.”

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