Thursday, July 22, 2010

Apichatpong-a-rama: It's not gay zombie porn, but Uncle Boonmee is in Melbourne

The Melbourne International Film Festival starts today, with the surprise addition of this year's Cannes Golden Palm winner Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives to the lineup.

It's playing alongside a companion short in director Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Primitive project, A Letter to Uncle Boonmee.

Of the feature film, Apichatpong says:

More than my other films, Uncle Boonmee is very much about cinema, that’s also why it’s personal. If you care to look, each reel of the film has a different style – acting style, lighting style, or cinematic references – but most of them reflect movies. I think that when you make a film about recollection and death, you have to consider that cinema is also dying – at least this kind of old cinema that nobody makes anymore.”

Interestingly, the 59-year-old festival has been hit with the first time a film has been "banned". The controversial L.A. Zombie by Bruce LaBruce was refused a rating by Australia's Film Classification Board. It's the followup to LaBruce's Otto: Or Up With Dead People, which was actually screened at the 2008 Bangkok International Film Festival, much to the shock, disbelief and weirded-out delight of anyone who saw it.

L.A. Zombie is described by festival director Richard Moore as a "video art zombie film". It stars French adult-film star Francois Sagat as a man convinced he is an alien zombie sent to Earth to roam the streets of Los Angeles in search of dead bodies and gay sex.

The Canadian director had this to say to the Sydney Morning Herald:

My first thought was ‘Eureka!’ I’ll never understand how censors don’t see that the more they try to suppress a film, the more people will want to see it. It gives me a profile I didn’t have yesterday."

Yeah, nobody seems to get that.

The Melbourne International Film Festival runs until August 8. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives shows on the last day.

Meanwhile, lots of other stuff happening with Apichatpong:

  • He was interviewed on CNN Talk Asia. "Thailand's ghost-friendly filmmaker" talked about his big win at Cannes and facing Thailand's censors. Here's another link to the CNN Talk Asia story.
  • Apichatpong and "princess" actress Wallapa Mongkolprasert are interviewed in Cannes at Independencia, with Christelle Lheureux on camera. There's three parts, 1, 2, 3.
  • He's participating in the Sao Paulo Biennale, which runs from September 25 to December 12.
  • Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives ends its limited Bangkok run on Sunday. Talks are under way to bring it to Khon Kaen and Phuket, and maybe Chiang Mai.
  • There's a French poster for Oncle Boonmee. The film is due for release in France on September 1. French rights are held by Pyramide Distribution.
Update: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives has been added to the New Zealand International Film Festival and will open the Cinema Digital Seoul Film Festival.

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