Thursday, April 15, 2010

Apichatpong and his Uncle Boonmee in competition at Cannes

Apichatpong Weerasethakul will return to the Cannes Film Festival with his new feature, Uncle Boonmee who can Recall his Past Lives (ลุงบุญมีระลึกชาติ, Loong Boonmee Raleuk Chaat), among those announced for the main Palme d'Or competition today in Paris.

The program, including the competitions, is incomplete. More films could be added later. As festival director Thierry Fremaux explained last week: "It's a very difficult, complicated year."

It's the second time Apichatpong has been in the main competition. He won a jury prize in 2004 for Tropical Malady (Sud Pralad). His 2002 feature Blissfully Yours (Sud Sanaeha) won the Un Certain Regard competition. He served on the Cannes main competition jury in 2008.

Uncle Boonmee who can Recall his Past Lives is the feature-film component of Apichatpong's multi-platform Primitive art project, which includes a massive seven-channel video installation that has been exhibited in Paris, Liverpool and Munich, as well as two other award-winning short films, A Letter to Uncle Boonmee and Phantoms of Nabua.

The project is inspired by a book written by a Buddhist monk in Apichatpong's hometown of Khon Kaen, which told of a man who believed in reincarnation and could remember his past lives. The concepts of memories are interwoven in the experiences of the northeastern Thailand village of Nabua, Nakhon Phanom, which was the scene of a deadly anti-communist crackdown by the Thai army in 1965 and is still commemorated in the village today.

Past Lives will likely range further afield, taking in the journeys of Apichatpong, his film crew and regular cast members, actress Jenjira Pongpas and Sakda Kaewbuadee, throughout northeastern Thailand.

It's part of a strong Asian lineup in competition that includes The Housemaid by Im Sang-soo and Poetry by Lee Chan-dong from South Korea and Japanese director Takeshi Kitano's much anticipated return to gangster movies with Outrage. Ha Ha Ha by South Korea's Hong Sang-soo was announced for the Un Certain Regard competition.

Others in the main competition include Hors la loi by Rachid Bouchareb, Tournée by Mathieu Amalric, Biutiful by Alejandro González Iñárritu, The Certified Copy by Abbas Kiarostami, La Princesse de Montpensier by Bertrand Tavernier, Burnt by the Sun 2 by Nikita Mikhailov, Un homme qui crie by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, You my joy by Sergei Lovnitsa, Des hommes et des dieux by Xavier Beauvois, Fair Game by Doug Liman, La nostra vita by Daniele Luchetti and Another Year by Mike Leigh.

Among the possible additions is Tree of Life by Terrence Malick, which "is not ready.

Also yet to come is the closing-night film.

Out-of-competition entries include the opening film Robin Hood by Ridley Scott plus Oliver Stone's Wall Street 2 and You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger by Woody Allen.

With Tim Burton already announced as president of the feature-film jury, the panel will have actress Kate Beckinsale, actress Giovanna Mezzogrino, film expert Alberto Barbera, writer Emmanuel Carerre, actor Benicio del Toro, director Victor Erice and director Shekhar Kapur. Jailed Iranian director Jafar Panahi was announced for the jury as well.

Already it's shaping up to be a contentious year between festival organizers and the press, with major wire services boycotting today's announcement over an exclusive coverage deal with Canal Plus and Orange.

(Via Matt Riviera, On the Croissette, IndieWire, Wildgrounds)

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