Thai film director Apichatpong Weerasethakul will receive a special tribute in the upcoming edition of the FICCI
The 57th Cartagena de Indias International Film Festival will pay tribute to the Asian director who won the Palme d'Or at the 2010 Cannes Festival, among many other awards. His work, usually based on non-linear narratives and a strong sense of dislocation, deals with the memory of his country and approaches political and social issues in a lyrical way. Apichatpong Weerasethakul, the filmmaker of the impossible whose films are intimately connected to visual arts, will be in Cartagena between the 1st and 6th of March thanks to the support of Kick the Machine and Kinetoscopio Magazine. He will present seven films, three shorts, an installation and will give a master class in the Salón FICCI. The FICCI wishes to pay a heartfelt homage and express its gratitude to a director who reinvented film and its poetic and expressive possibilities, away from the traditional hubs, and gave a voice to those silenced by colonialism, historical tragedies and rationality.
The films of Apichatpong Weerasethakul bring together the most inspired fantasy, dreams, nightmares and ghosts into a same narrative space, following the director's own rules but with an undeniable connection to the culture he thrives on. Through his company, Kick the Machine, he promotes a daringly independent kind of films and, in his own work, he uses elements taken from the dramatic structures of his country's radio and TV shows as well as from comics and old movies. His stories are inspired by the ways of life and the cultural and spiritual values of the small villages of his country, and he often works with non-professional actors and improvised dialogues in order to explore the limits between documentary and fiction.
In 2000, he completed his first feature, Mysterious Object at Noon (Dofka Nai Meuman), a documentary that has been screened at many international festivals and received enthusiastic reviews and awards as well as being listed among the best films of the year 2000 by Film Comment and the Village Voice. Blissfully Yours (Sud sanaeha, 2002), a love story that unfolds in the middle of the jungle and ends in a disaster, won the Un Certain Regard award in Cannes. In The Adventures of Iron Pussy (Huajai Toranong, 2003), a beautiful heroin solves crimes for the Thai government who deems her indecent due to her public support of the sex industry. In her last mission, the protagonist will not only uncover illegal activities but also discover her past and her first love.
Tropical Malady (Sud Pralad, 2004), winner of the Jury Prize in Cannes, is a hymn to the beauty of human beings and to the power of memories and imagination, told through the experience of a lone soldier who wanders into the heart of the jungle where local legends say that humans can be transformed into other creatures. Syndromes and a Century (Sang Sattawat, 2006), the first Thai movie ever included in the selection of the Venice Film Festival, is structured in two parts that echo each other through two characters inspired by the director's parents.
With Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives - (Lung Boonmee Raluek Chat, 2010), he was awarded the Palme d'Or in Cannes. The film tells the story of a dying old man who decides to spend his last days surrounded by his loved ones in the countryside, where the ghost of his late wife appears to watch over him and his long-lost son comes back home in a non-human form.
The selection will also include Cemetery of Splendour (Rak Ti Khon Kaen, 2015), a film in which a young medium in love with a sleeping soldier is able to enter his dreams, and a team of doctors wants to revive a group of unconscious soldiers using different light compositions, transporting us into the director's spiritual and emotional world.
Lastly, the short films Empire (2010), Ashes (2012) and Mobile Men (a section of the collective film Stories on Human Rights - 2008) will be presented, as well as the installation Fireworks (2015), through which the director explores another language and new spaces to channel his emotions. In Weerasethakul's own words, the installation is "a space that hosts a ritual where people simply gather to enjoy the light. It is the most primitive form of film, when stories were imagined around a fire. This work is a reflection of my 'home' in Mae Rin, Chiang Mai, Thailand. In March, the place is full of insects, heat and smoke. It is also next to the the army camp. Since the coup in May 2014, the military junta has silenced its critics through force and intimidation. The streets are free of demonstrators."