Filmmakers Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin Featured on NPR’s Fresh Air

Chai Vasarhelyi and her husband Jimmy Chin have recently wrapped work on The Rescue, their documentary chronicling the near-tragic disaster in 2018 when a group of children were stranded deep in a cave in Thailand. For weeks, the world watched and wrung their hands, as news that the kids had become trapped in the cave system by rising water.

Rescue teams agonized over not only how to reach the kids, but whether or not the children would still be alive if they could get to them. It proved to be a logistical and engineering challenge to modify equipment to keep the children safe for the three-hour swim through claustrophobic cave tunnels to the surface.

Miraculously, all 12 kids and their coach survived, though one rescue diver did not.

Vasarhelyi and Chin were joined by rescue diver Rick Stanton on NPR’s Fresh Air to discuss the film and the rescue. It’s a terrific interview, which you can listen to below.

From the interview, Stanton on the shock of finding the kids alive, then of trying to get children through the water-filled passages:

They were all very stoic. They walked down, crouched on their haunches in front of us. … I was actually counting them as they came around the corner into view. So just as [fellow diver John Volanthen] asked, “How many of you are there?” You hear me say in the background [saying], “They’re all alive.” And, for us, that was quite miraculous, considering what we were expecting to possibly find. But as amazing a moment is that was, I think both John and I immediately moved on to the next step: OK, they’re here, but I’ve absolutely no idea how we can get them out. That underwater journey in those conditions is beyond their ability. And I thought beyond our abilities to be able to bring them out at that point.

(The interview is embedded above, but if your browser does support the embed, here’s a link to the NPR site.)

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