Central Park Conservancy Film Festival returns with NY premiere of 'The Rescue'

UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- The 18th annual Central Park Conservancy Film Festival, presented by National Geographic, kicks off Tuesday with free documentary screenings in the park.

The 2020 event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and proof of vaccination will be required to attend this year.

The festival opens with the New York premiere of "The Rescue," which chronicles the daring rescue of 12 boys and their coach from deep inside a flooded cave in Northern Thailand.

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Academy Award-winning directors and producers E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin piece together the high stakes mission, highlighting the efforts of the Royal Thai Navy SEALs and US Special Forces and detailing the expert cave divers' audacious venture to bring the boys to safety.

"Meru" will be shown Thursday, and that film tells the story of three close friends who are among the world's best professional climbers as they battle their complicated pasts, inner demons, and nature's harshest elements in an attempt to confront the Shark's Fin on Mount Meru, the most technically complicated and dangerous peak in the Himalayas -- and one that had never been scaled to completion.

The festival closes Friday with a showing of the Oscar-winning documentary "Free Solo," a stunning, intimate, and unflinching portrait of the free soloist climber Alex Honnold as he prepares to achieve his lifelong dream of climbing the face of the world's most famous rock -- the 3,000-foot El Capitan in Yosemite National Park -- without a rope.

Celebrated as one of the greatest athletic feats of any kind, Honnold's climb set the ultimate standard: perfection or death. Succeeding in this challenge, Honnold enters his story in the annals of human achievement.

The festival is free, but guests will be asked to present registration confirmation in order to enter the Central Park Conservancy Film Festival. CLICK HERE for registration information.

Gates open at 5:30 p.m., with pre-show programming and music until the films begin at dusk.

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