In the wake of today’s increased violence between Thai authorities and upcountry protesters who’ve taken over several blocks of Bangkok’s most popular shopping and tourist districts, Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s thoughts on Thailand’s tumultuous political history carry unexpected resonance. Could the heat of the crisis in this week’s news cycle have an effect on perceptions of the Cannes jury toward Weerasethakul’s film? From Filmofilia:
‚ÄúA few years ago, while I was at my home town of Khon Kaen, I was given a little book called A Man Who Can Recall His Past Lives. It‚Äôs about Uncle Boonmee who recounts his multiple lives as humans and animals. I was thinking he must be a masochist because he always reborn in the northeast, where it‚Äôs arid and politically unstable.
I also like the fact that while Uncle Boonmee could remember for hundreds of years, we forget things in our lifetime, things like the tyranny of past regimes. So I travelled the northeast and focused on the idea of remembering. In the end, I settled at the village of Nabua in Nakhon Panom. It was one of the places the Thai army occupied from the 60s to the early 80s to fight so-called communists.
While there is no obvious link between Boonmee and Nabua, that village is full of repressed memories. I decided to work there. I interviewed a lot of people but ended up not using the material. I just worked with the teens to build a spaceship and make our little movies. It‚Äôs my process of remembering the place.‚Äù
Apichatpong Weerasethakul has quietly established himself as one of the most distinctive voices in world cinema, thanks to such woozy, fragmented and slippery works as Tropical Malady and Syndromes and a Century. He provoked the ire of the Thai authorities after refusing to cut four scenes from his last picture but he seems more relaxed about his name, which is often shortened to ‘Joe’. (Guardian UK)