They became known as “the 33” – the group of Chilean miners and support personnel who survived for a record three months trapped deep underground before their spectacular televised rescue in August 2010.
Each man had to enter a cage before being hauled up to safety through 700 metres of rock, in an operation which entranced viewers around the globe.
Now, their story is now being made into a film, starring Spanish actor Antonio Banderas and French actress Juliette Binoche. Shooting started at the end of last year in Colombia.
“We are going to show most of what happened down there, though there are things that the 33 will take to the grave, because they have a pact of silence, but they took part in the script and approved of it, it’s their story,” said one of the actors in the movie, Juan Pablo Raba.
Antonio Banderas plays Mario Sepulveda, nicknamed “Super Mario”, who became the public face of the miners.
“When the news came out that this was actually going to happen, the Chilean producer asked all of us who were out of a job whether we were interested in taking part in the production in some way. We were offered the possibility and I became part of the team of extra coordinators,” said the real-life Mario Sepulveda.
The film will deal with previously unknown details of the miners’ time below ground, including how they stretched a meagre 48-hour store of emergency food for 17 days in order to survive.
Before shooting started, Mexican Director Patricia Riggen spent two years interviewing everyone involved including miners and their families, as well as the rescue team, government officials and journalists who covered the story.
“The biggest challenge is that we are making a movie about real people, and we have to make sure that we pay them respect. But at the same time, it’s a movie, so marrying those two things is very difficult,” she said.
‘The 33’, the real-life story of Chile’s miners buried deep underground for 69 days, is expected to be released next year.