Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Apichatpong-a-rama: Pob ghost in Mekong Hotel, jury in Locarno

In just a couple more days, Apichatpong Weerasethakul's latest film, the 61-minute Mekong Hotel will premiere out of competition in a "special screening" at the Cannes Film Festival.

Across the Web, much about the mid-length movie from the Uncle Boonmee maker remains a mystery, but here's a description from the festival website:

Mekong Hotel is a portrait of a hotel near the Mekong River in the northeast of Thailand. The river there marks the border between Thailand and Laos. In the bedrooms and terraces, Apichatpong held a rehearsal with his crew for a movie that he wrote years ago called Ecstasy Garden. The film shuffles different realms, fact and fiction, expressing the bonds between a vampire-like mother and her daughter, the young lovers and the river. Mekong Hotel – since it was shot at the time of the heavy flooding in Thailand – also weaves in layers of demolition, politics, and a drifting dream of the future.

The vampire-like mother, I believe, refers to Phi Pob, the infamous gut-munching female ghost that's been depicted in Thai films throughout history.

A poster turned up somewhere and there are images on the Cannes website as well as at IndieWire's the Playlist which links to more coverage from Chuck "Peter/Andre" Stephens at CinemaScope:

“I’m finishing one very romantic film of a hotel on the Mekong, in Nong Khai,” the helmer also previously explained to CinemaScope. “It’s a one-hour film called Mekong Hotel. My crew goes there, and my friend, who is a guitar teacher, improvises and plays guitar for an hour. My crew is trying to rehearse a movie about this ghost who goes around eating innards. It’s like a documentary but every scene is shot in a hotel room.”

I don't think Tilda Swinton is involved with this, as as been rumored, though she might be. But the cast list on the poster and at the Cannes site don't list her, just some of the usual suspects of Joei's movies, like actress Jenjira Pongpas and actor Sakda Kaewbuadee.

In related news, Apichatpong has been chosen to lead the main-competition at Switzerland'a Locarno fest.

The gushing of the festival organizer comes from Film Business Asia's coverage:

"Apichatpong Weerasethakul has been a major revelation in world cinema," said Locarno's artistic director Olivier Père. "The Thai filmmaker, whose poetic and dreamlike films blend his country's national legends, a sensual feel for the physical and natural world as well as new narrative and visual styles borrowed from contemporary art, has invented a mutant form of cinema that completely overturns our viewing habits and takes us into unexplored areas that verge on the sublime".

The Locarno Film Festival runs from August 1 to 11.

Correction: An earlier version of this post referred to the ghost as the krasue. This was incorrect.

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