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Real-Life Heroes Head Cast of Thai Rescue Film ‘The Cave’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Several of the real-life heroes whose actions in rescuing a soccer team from a flooded cave in Thailand made world headlines a year ago this month will play themselves in upcoming movie “The Cave.”

They include rescue diver Jim Warny from Belgium, dive instructors Erik Brown from Canada and Mikko Paasi from Finland, and Chinese cave-diving instructor Tan Xiaolong. American journalist Todd Ruiz, who covered the events in the Tham Luang caves for the Khao Sod English-language newspaper, reprises his role as a reporter.

The film, in Thai, Chinese and English, is directed by Thai-Irish director Tom Waller. He wrote the story with writers Don Linder and Katrina Grose, who previously collaborated with him on “The Last Executioner.”

Thai teen heartthrob Ekawat Niratworapanya (“Grace,” “Last Summer”) heads the acting cast. He plays the football coach who led 12 schoolboys into the caves near Chiang Mai. When the Wild Boars team became trapped by suddenly rising floodwaters, the coach was responsible for keeping the boys alive and calm during the protracted ordeal. American newcomer James Edward Holley plays a U.S. Air Force major who was also involved.

Thai folk artist Jumpa Saenprom plays Mae Bua Chaicheun, a local farmer who dropped everything and headed to the mountainside to help.

The film also features several hundred extras, a mix of actors and those who were present at the event itself.

“I wanted the film to be an honest portrayal of the events that took place at Tham Luang cave, and decided to go for a more authentic approach, taking the story from the point of view of some of the unsung heroes who took part in the rescue,” Waller told Variety. “Like the rescue itself, I wanted the cast to be made up of both local and international characters, speaking in their own tongue.”

The Cave” is produced by Waller’s De Warrenne company, with France’s Wild Bunch heading international rights sales. It is expected to be released in Thai cinemas later this year.

Multiple other projects were announced shortly after the largely successful rescue – one Thai army diver lost his life – but it is not clear how many of them will go ahead. Ivanhoe Pictures, the U.S. studio behind “Crazy Rich Asians” and which has Asian production executives permanently based in Bangkok, is currently developing a series with global streaming giant Netflix.

Photographs provided by De Warrenne Pictures Co. Ltd. Copyright © 2019 Fredrik DIVALL. All Rights Reserved.

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