Monday, October 15, 2012

Apichatpong-a-rama: Cactus River flows online

Cannes Golden Palm winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul has a new film out, and you won't have to trek to a film festival, arthouse cinema or art gallery to see it – it's online.

Cactus River (Khong Lang Nam) debuted over the weekend on the newly launched Walker Channel of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, which commissioned the short film by Apichatpong.

Here's more about it from the Walker Art Center website:

With Cactus River, the work’s title provides the sense of mystery that we have come to know through all of Weerasethakul’s work: a desert plant with the name of a waterway. It doesn’t make geographic sense, but conjures an image of what will happen to the Mekong if anticipated dams are built — making a veritable cactus-filled river. But this is more than a film about last year’s floods in Thailand and the threat of drought. In describing Cactus River, Weerasethkul tells the story of how actress Jenjira Pongpas changed her name to Nach, which means water. She has acted in his films since 2009, including Syndromes and a Century and Uncle Boonmee, both of which screened at the Walker in 2011. Convinced that her new name will bring good luck, Nach soon meets and marries Frank, a retired soldier from the small US town of Cuba, New Mexico. Cactus River opens with a scene of Nach and her husband in their new home on the Mekong River as they go about their daily life. She is cooking or knitting baby socks for sale while he gardens and watches a Thai television program with the sound turned off. We see the wind off the nearby river and the flowing of two waters, Nach and Mekong.

Cactus River is Weerasethakul’s diary of his visit with the couple. He explains, “The flow of the two rivers — Nach and the Mekong — activates my memories of the place where I shot several films. Over many years, this woman whose name was once Jenjira has introduced me to this river, her life, its history, and to her belief about its imminent future. She is certain that soon there will be no water in the river due to the upstream constructions of dams in China and Laos. I noticed, too, that Jenjira was no more.

Shot in black and white, much of it is in fast motion – though there is a spectacular slow-mo skateboard stunt. The video, available on YouTube, is embedded below.

Cactus River appears to be another element from Apichatpong's project about "water, specifically the Mekong". It also closely follows the low-fi, fragmented aesthetics of his previous work, Ashes, which was shot with the hand-cranked Lomo Kino camera and also debuted online.

Meanwhile, Apichatpong's latest feature, Mekong Hotel, is continuing to make the rounds at film festivals. It'll screen at the Walker later this month. Rumor is Mekong Hotel will appear soon in Bangkok, but details are yet to be confirmed.

(Via Mubi Notebook)

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