Friday, May 14, 2004

Tropical Malady director 'shocked'

Thai director Apichatpong "Joe" Weerasethakul says he was shocked to learn that his latest work, Tropical Malady, is in contention for the Palme D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. He says it is "too simple a film" in an interview with Agence France-Presse.

After reading about it, it doesn't sound so simple, though.

"So simple that it is not really a festival kind of film, which usually has to have some dramatic value," Apichatpong told the French news agency. "I am kind of surprised because nothing much happens (in the film) and I am really curious to know the people's reaction."

"Tropical Malady" is actually two separate stories grafted together, he said. The two halves "are of a completely different style, different colors, different pace," he says, yet the audience should still be able to connect the dots.

The first story revolves around two men in a passionate relationship bordering between intense friendship and love. They are "lovers, but we never show them kiss, just hold hands," he says.

The second focuses on a man who ventures into the jungle in search of a tiger, or more specifically a shaman or man who has been transformed into a tiger. "At the end, the man has the choice of killing the tiger or letting it kill him."

The first, faster-paced half was inspired by classical Thai cinema, while the second resembles the slow-burn pace of the jungle love story, Blissfully Yours, AFP's article states. It adds: "Slow, meditative, and at times coarsely sexual, Blissfully Yours is no longer available in Thailand as even its censored version was banned recently by the government."

Another feature he directed, The Adventure of Iron Pussy, was shown earlier this year at the Berlin Film Festival and has yet to be screened in Thailand. Given its gay-themed subject matter, about a transvestite secret agent, it's questionable that it will be shown at all, even though movies featuring transvestites are a major staple of the Thai film industry.

With his latest feature, Apichatpong says he has delivered an essay on the search for the self.

"There is a lot of metaphor on same-sex relationships, on the confusion of finding identity.

"It is unpredictable, it doesn't have a classical structure," and it's "semi-experimental," he adds.

Apichatpong told AFP that the odds are against him in the competition. "I don't think I can win the Palm, my movie is too personal. Tropical Malady is just representing myself, not Thailand."

Yet he says he feels the intense pressure brought by the expectations of a nation that in the past few years has churned out several delightful arthouse films that have the international market paying rapt attention - and expecting more than exotic novelty.

"Many people will not be proud to have this little movie, which is not technically perfect, and whose story is nothing!"

He is optimistic about the future of moviemaking in his country, with the emergence of a new generation of young directors such as Pen-ek Ratanaruang (Monrak Transistor, Last Life in the Universe) and Pimpaka Towira (One Night Husband) whose originality have begun winning prizes at international festivals.

"We are starting to hear more personal views," he says. "We have been opening up in the past years and I am sure we will move on to become more successful."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please, no questions or comments about where to download movies or subtitle files.

Please read the FAQ about Thai films on DVD before asking about where to find a Thai movie on DVD with English subtitles.

Make your comments pertinent to the post you are commenting on. For off-topic comments, general observations or news tips, consider sending an e-mail to me at wisekwai [ a t ] g m a i l [d o t ] c o m.

All comments are moderated. Spam comments will be deleted.