Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Apichatpong-a-rama: The filmmaker's back in Bangkok, Uncle Boonmee's in Sydney, headed to Munich

Apichatpong Weerasethakul is back in Thailand after a jaunt around Europe in which his new film Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives win the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in France, he wowed the British media with his flaming soccer ball and taught students in Geneva.

He held interviews yesterday with the Thai press at the Sri Salaya Theatre at the Thai Film Archive in Nakhon Pathom.

The Nation forcibly dragged some guy out of his house at 8 o'clock in the morning, poured coffee, Daeng Bireley's and duck noodles down his gullet and made him interview Apichatpong. Somehow, thanks to the kind, patient and intelligent Joei, a story was written and actually printed in the newspaper the very next day. You can read it here. Here's a bit:

Already much lauded, Apichatpong has become a bona fide celebrity as the first Thai to win one of cinema's most prestigious awards. His ordinarily quiet, private life is now filled with talk about his movie, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Luang Boonmee Raluek Chat).

"It's hard," he admitted yesterday in this third grilling of the day. "I went to meet some big shot in France – I cannot say the name – and he said, 'Now you have more enemies!'

"When you come more into the public sphere, you're bound to have these people ... You have more people who love you and more people who hate you. It's put a little pressure on me because I really like my privacy, but I think my love for movies is more. So I'm okay with that."

He's pessimistic about releasing Uncle Boonmee in Thailand. So beyond possible festival screenings or some kind one-off event, the first Thai film to win the Palme d'Or probably won't be seen by the majority of the Thai public.

What would be really cool is if a Thai distributor would step forward and underwrite the costs of releasing the film, and shepherd it through the gauntlet of censorship and ratings. But that probably won't happen because the film won't make any money. "It's not for everyone," Apichatpong admits.

Anyway, Apichatpong wants to move on, and he's got some exciting things lined up.

He's been asked to make the one-minute trailer for this year's Vienna International Film Festival, following in the steps of James Benning and Jean-Luc Godard. It's expected to be ready in September.

He's doing a new art piece for the Sao Paulo Biennale, and he's still keen to work on the portrait of 86-year-old writer and Japan specialist Donald Richie. He's also writing a new feature, which might involve French, British and Thai actresses – "cannot tell who".

Producing deals include debut features by two directors, Lee Chatametikool's Past Love and Sompot Chidgasornpongs' train movie, Are We There Yet.

Meanwhile, Uncle Boonmee is in the Sydney Film Festival, where it played today and is said to be one of the festival's hot tickets, alongside The Runaways. Lots of stuff about it on Twitter.

Matt Riviera:

By engaging truthfully with the natural & the supernatural, Uncle Boonmee conjures a world entirely outside my own, for which I'm grateful.

Kid Twist:

Like taking a quiet, contemplative stroll with the spirits. Haunting yet whimsical. Hypnotic and gently moving.

Others were not sure what to think. Some liked it. Some did not.

Next, Uncle Boonmee heads to the Munich Film Festival, where it heads up the Focus on the Far East, playing alongside another Thai indie festival hit, Anocha Suwichakornpong's Mundane History.

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