An exclusive interview with Tom Waller, Director, and Producer of The Cave movie, which will premiere at BIFF in October 2019
As the first narrative feature film about the events which took place last summer at Tham Luang cave in Chiang Mai province, Northern Thailand, THE CAVE is undoubtedly the most anticipated Thai movie of the year. We interviewed Thai-Irish writer/director and longtime Bangkok resident Tom Waller, who beat Hollywood in telling this story that captivated the world. THE CAVE is released nationwide in Thai cinemas on 28 November 2019, following its World premiere at Busan International Film Festival and European premiere at the BFI London Film Festival in October.
· Why did you decide to make a film about the cave rescue, and how did production start so quickly after the rescue?
Like everyone else on the planet, I was following the news with much anticipation. People watched the events unfold and their hearts were beating. I realized as a filmmaker with Thai nationality, that I was in a unique position to tell this story from a unique perspective, without the need to wait for lengthy government permissions, which a foreign filmmaker would have to do.
· What angle does the film focus on?
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 trapped boys and their coach from the cave.
· What has been done to ensure the film is authentic and accurate?
I have more than a dozen actual rescuers involved in the production, mostly playing themselves in the film. They help to maintain authenticity since, for them, there’s no acting required!
· Where does the cast come from?
Although the story is embedded in a Thai narrative the film features a truly international cast. In the same way that this rescue was a real mix of participants from all over the world, I’ve tried to match that variety by using a very diverse ensemble cast, which includes real people from the rescue as well as trained actors to portray certain roles.
· Have the local Chiang Rai / Mae Sai community been involved in the film?
Yes, many of the real participants of the events at Tham Luang cave have cameo appearances as extras in the film, and we filmed in the region and also inside the real cave.
· Did you have any trouble with the Thai authorities?
At first, it was a challenge to persuade the National Parks Authority to let us film at the real Tham Luang cave, but after months of lobbying and with assistance from the Ministry of Culture, we were finally granted access. Also, surprisingly, the film censorship department at the Ministry passed the film with a ‘General’ audience rating, with no cuts.
You can see the movie at SF and Major cinemas nationwide from 28 November 2019.