Monday, January 28, 2013

Apichatpong, sex and smashing watermelons at HAF 2013

A who's who of Thai indie filmmakers will take part in this year's Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum.

Apichatpong Weerasethakul will be at the project market with Cemetery of Kings, "which follows a lonely middle-aged housewife and a soldier with a sleeping sickness".

Aditya Assarat, Sivaroj Kongsakul and Pramote Sangsorn combine for the three-segment sex omnibus Nude Project

And Anocha Suwichakornpong collaborates with Bosnian visual artist Sejla Kameric on ForeverAwhile, "composed of reconstructed scenes inspired by the fragments of their memories and lives".

Cemetery of Kings will be the first full-length feature from Apichatpong since his Cannes Palme d'Or-winning Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. He'll again be working with his Uncle Boonmee producers Simon Field and Keith Griffiths and his long-time actress Jenjira Widner, whose character is based on her recent real-life marriage to a retired German soldier. Here's the project synopsis from the HAF website:

In a small town in Thailand, 27 soldiers come down with a strange  case of sleeping sickness. An abandoned elementary school is converted to accommodate them. Jenjira Widner, a middle-age Thai lady who is married to  Frank, a retired soldier from the US, volunteers to tend to the sleeping soldiers.  She takes special interest in Itta who has no visiting relatives.

At the public library, Jenjira meets two phantoms who tell her about a buried cemetery of kings underneath the school/hospital. Jenjira is alarmed and feels more protective towards Itta. At the same time, the young soldier makes her heart flutter. Frank, her husband, becomes suspicious.

Jenjira’s fear and confusion trigger a strange dream that she shares with Itta, a  dream that involves a large unidentified creature on the Mekong River’s shore. Its  carcass leads Jenjira to Itta’s imaginary girlfriend, Phon, who revitalizes her with  the power of poems, remembering, and touching. At the shore, Jenjira fulfils her  fantasy of having a younger man begging for her love. Not far away, the dead animal is cut up. Its belly is full of marigold flowers in various stages of decay.

Check out the project synopsis from the HAF website for a detailed director's statement, in which he explains his inspiration comes from the "blanketing" influence of the military and the monarchy.

The omnibus Nude Project has Pramote, Aditya and Sivaroj each directing a segment based on a single theme: sex. "The filmmakers explore the nature of sexual desire and sexuality in different social contexts in Thai society," says the project statement, which gives detailed synopsis for each segment and further explanations from the directors, who take their inspirations from repressed and censored societal notions about sex and how parents set examples for sexual behavior.

Anocha collaborates with Sejla, a visual artist she met in Copenhagen. Their project, ForeverAwhile "will comprise a series of fragments, with each fragment’s narrative seemingly disconnected to one another. Some fragments will be short, lasting under a minute in duration, while some will be much longer. Some fragments will also be repeated, sometimes (but not always) with a slight variation."

Watermelons falling off the back of a truck and smashing on the road, footprints in the snow, hands setting a table and silent record player are among the images. The project, which aims to be a 60-minute film/visual art crossover, is produced by Copenhagen's DOX:LAB, the Center for Contemporary Arts, Sarajevo and Anocha's own Electric Eel Films. Read the project PDF for lots more details.

The Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF) runs from March 18 to 20 as part of the Entertainment Expo Hong Kong.

(Via Film Business Asia, The Hollywood Reporter)

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