Apichatpong Weerasethakul returns to the Cannes Film Festival with Cemetery of Splendour.
According to Apichatpong’s Kick the Machine website, Cemetery of Splendour (รักที่ขอนแก่น, Rak Ti Khon Kaen) is about a lonesome middle-aged housewife who tends to a soldier with a mysterious sleeping sickness. She falls into a hallucination that triggers strange dreams, phantoms and romance – all the usual ingredients of an Apichatpong joint. Featuring Apichatpong’s longtime leading lady Jenjira Widner, it was filmed last year in the director’s boyhood hometown of Khon Kaen, in the Northeast of Thailand.
For Apichatpong, this year will mark his return to Un Certain Regard, an enigmatic category that tends to be more adventurous and avant-garde than the main Palme d’Or race, which can also be pretty far out. He competed in Un Certain Regard on his first trip to Cannes in 2002 with Blissfully Yours, which won the top prize. It was the first Thai film to win an award at Cannes.
Apichatpong returned to Cannes in 2004, entering the main competition with Tropical Malady, which won the Jury Prize from the panel headed by Quentin Tarantino.
His big triumph at Cannes came in 2010, with the top-prize Palme d’Or win for Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, awarded by the jury led by Tim Burton.
Apichatpong also served on the Palme d’Or jury in 2008, and his mid-length effort Mekong Hotel had a special screening at Cannes in 2012.
Such a track record had fans and pundits assuming Apichatpong’s latest project would be among the official selection that was announced by festival chiefs last week. But it wasn’t.