Happy birthday to Apichatpong Weerasethakul. The filmmaker turns 39 today.
Seems as fitting a day as any to dust off another excerpt from the recent book about Apichatpong, and this ties in with something else going on, the Asian Film Festival of Dallas, which starts tomorrow and is showing the 2007 thriller, The Screen at Kamchanod as well as last year's hit horror omnibus 4Bia.
The Screen of Kamchanod is said to be based on a true incident that took place in a forest preserve in Udon Thani, where an outdoor cinema company was hired to show a movie to an audience of ghosts.
Apichatpong refers to the incident in the book, and writer Tim Pfaff highlighted the passage in his recent review for the Bay Area Reporter. Here is an excerpt:
Smack in the middle of the book, where it belongs, are his reflections ("Ghosts in the Darkness") on the primal act of filmmaking and film-watching, which for him are inseparable acts.
Drawing a haunting analogy to primal man's habit of painting images on cave walls, he tells a story "said to be true" about an Isaan man with a traveling cinema show, making "open-air presentations in villages and temples." As he showed his film, an audience filed in to watch them and they "all got up and wandered away. At dawn the next day, the film-show owner realized he was in the middle of a cemetery, and that he had been paid to show a film for ghosts.
"Even ghosts wanted to watch films," Apichatpong writes, drawing a parallel to ordinary people watching, ghost-like, moving images on a screen. "The cinema itself is like a coffin with bodies, sitting still, as if under a spell. The moving images on the screen are camera records of events that have already taken place; they are remains of the past, strung together and called a film. In this hall of darkness, ghosts are watching ghosts."
I still wonder what film it was that was shown to those ghosts in Kamchanod.