The world’s eyes were on Chile in 2010. After a copper and gold mine collapsed deep in the Atacama Desert just north of the city of Copiapó, 33 brave miners were trapped more than 2,295 ft below ground. However, after a harrowing 69 days the men returned to the surface, and the loving arms of their friends and family.
Now, that trying and triumphant tale of survival is being immortalized in the film ‘The 33’ currently in production. As the stars and crew of the film arrived in Chile to shoot in the north near where the actual event took place, they met with the real-life heroes themselves, reinforcing the importance of portraying these men and their families with dignity and honesty.
“I was one of the many millions obsessed with the story,” said Antonio Banderas who is portraying Mario Sepúlveda who became a leader and spokesman for the 33 miners during the long ordeal. “It reflects the value of life in a confused and violent world.”
The famous Spanish actor met with the real Sepúlveda during a ceremony at Chile’s La Moneda presidential palace last month, the two joking about how much they look alike.
The real life heroes and actors were also joined by Chile’s president, Sebastián Piñera, who is also excited about the film which will capture a major moment for the country and for all Chileans.
“This was not just about rescuing the 33 miners, it was a commitment to life assumed by the whole country and the whole world, it was a homage, a hymn to life,” Piñera said.
The head of state said he thinks the way the country and world rallied around these trapped men, and the ultimate happy ending, is what has made this story such a powerful one.
“Chile is a better country after the miracle of the 33, because I have never seen such unity, faith, hope and commitment; everyone offered to help, there was no division, not a single bitter word, but quite the reverse, the whole country was united,” Piñera said. “The world needs hope, it needs good news and stories with happy endings.”
Mexican director Patricia Riggen is at the helm of the project, with big stars like Banderas and Academy Award winner Juliette Binoche as well as Chilean born actress Cote de Pablo and Brazilian heartthrob Rodrigo Santoro.
Much of the filming took place in Colombia, with the final scenes being shot in location in Chile. Filming is expected to wrap in March with release expected later this year.