Film producer Mike Medavoy announced today that Patricia Riggen has come on board to direct the theatrical film currently entitled The 33, based on the story of the 33 Chilean Miners, whose remarkable rescue from the San Jose Mine captivated the world's attention.
The Mexican-born director is best known for her independent film Under the Same Moon (La Misma Luna), which premiered at Sundance Film Festival to a standing ovation. After a heated bidding war, the film was acquired for worldwide distribution by Fox Searchlight and The Weinstein Company and was released theatrically to opening-weekend record numbers for a Spanish language film in the US.
"I saw in her film not only her talent but the real humanity and humor that this film needs." Medavoy said. "Patricia has the heart and sensibility to bring this story to life in a way that accurately reflects what the miners and their families endured."
Riggen is currently in Chile with the producers meeting with the miners. "I was riveted - along with the rest of the world - as the drama of 33 Chilean miners unfolded. It's been an extraordinary experience to meet the miners in person and hear from them the detailed account of their time underground. Since their rescue a little less than two years ago, the real story of their incredible survival has gone untold. In their darkest hour, they struggled to maintain their unity. The collapse brought out the best and the worst in them. Ultimately, the human spirit triumphed and all of them came out alive. I feel honored to have the opportunity to bring their extraordinary story to the world," said the director.
The film will recount the events surrounding the mine's collapse and the subsequent rescue efforts, both from the miners' perspective and those of the families and rescuers above, culminating in the emotional retrieval of all 33 miners. The script, which was written in collaboration with the miners themselves, also details the never-before told story of their first 17 days underground, before contact was made, details of which the miners have kept confidential until this time as part of their 'pact of silence.'
Last month, the miners celebrated the second year anniversary of the collapse that left them buried under a solid rock twice the size of the Empire State Building half a mile below ground for 69 days.
Few recent events have received the worldwide attention and coverage this event has: an estimated 1 billion people watched the extraction. Mike Medavoy, who lived in Chile for 10 years, secured all 33 of the miners' rights last year along with executive producers Carlos E. Lavin and Leopoldo Enriquez.
Edward McGurn, a longtime collaborator of Medavoy's, is producing along with Medavoy. Also joining the team as producer is Bernard Williams (A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon), who worked with Medavoy on five films including Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and The Bounty. Production Designer Martin Laing (Terminator Salvation, Clash of the Titans), Production Manager Rafael Cuervo (Troy, Master and Commander: The Far Side Of The World) and Cinematographer Checco Varese ASC (The Aura, True Blood), have also joined the production.
The 33, which will be entirely shot in Chile and produced in English, is currently in preproduction, with filming scheduled to start in January of 2013 for a late Fall release. Discussions are under way with cast and distributors.