Nattakit Boonmee who can remember

"Uncle Boonmee remembers his previous lives" in the cinema

Apichatpong Weerasethakuls are films like the jungle itself, an organic labyrinth that offers the organizing gaze many offers and allows many accesses without clearly privileging any particular one. "Uncle Boonmee ...", the one from the last days of life of an old man with kidney disease Narrated in a farming village in northeastern Thailand, it is a film of beguiling beauty and spiritual power, which poses a riddle and yet one that one can never want to be explained. Uncle Boonmee's relatives and friends mingle with his deceased wife and missing son in the course of the film - in monkey form. On a trip into the jungle, Boonmee approaches his fairytale past lives. This creates quiet an overwhelming cinematic narrativein which the sacred is not opposed to the profane, but is an entirely natural part of reality.
An early autumn day in Pre-Oktoberfest spruced up Munichthat looks almost more exotic than Weerasethakuls Thailand. The meeting point is the Haus der Kunst, in whose pathetic Nazi architecture a petite, youthful man with glasses is waiting. Weerasethakul acts more like a culture-conscious exchange student as like the internationally renowned director and artist who installed his large multimedia installation here last year Primitive Project presented, the conceptual forerunner of "Uncle Boonmee".

tip Mr. Weerasethakul, what does success mean to you?
Apichatpong Weerasethakul When I make a film, it's like going into battle. I would love to kill myself. For me, success is the moment when I send the finished film to the copier. Going to premieres and festivals is like taking a shower after hard work, like a reward. In addition, “Uncle Boonmee” could be released in Thailand without censorship - that's the real magic of the Golden Palm!

tip When you presented “Uncle Boonmee” in Cannes, street battles raged in Bangkok. You have the riots as
urgently overdue political awakening. You have been involved in the Free Thai Cinema movement since the censorship of “Syndromes and a Century”. What role does politics play in your work?
Weerasethakul I'm actually not a political filmmaker, I tell about my family, my experiences. But politics has pushed its way into my films for the past five years. I realized that I was only half-educated politically because the spectrum of what is taught in school is very limited. That is why there was no political discourse among the younger generation in Thailand. We had nothing to say because we didn't know anything. This has changed with the unrest, and a culture of political discussion is now emerging via the Internet, Twitter and Facebook. My films are political in the sense that they reflect my own political awareness.

tip "Uncle Boonmee" was created in the village of Nabua in northeast Thailand, which was fought over between communists and government troops from the 1960s to the 1980s. Most of the men were killed, the place called "Widows' Village". Today these incidents are largely forgotten. What does “memory” mean to you?
Weerasethakul I am a very forgetful person myself. I make films to remember. It is an expression of appreciation for this subjective reality. I lead two parallel lives, one real and one filmed, which sometimes overlap and influence each other. I think that's very important, because Thailand as a whole is also forgetful. We quickly forget our political history and refuse to learn from it. That is why political manipulation and street fights occur again and again: because we disregard our experience.

tip Your last films had a clearly two-part structure, breaking off and starting the narrative again in the middle. There is also a clear change in “Uncle Boonmee”, but it is much more organic. After visitors spend a while on the farm, the membrane between the living and the dead seems to become permeable.
Weerasethakul The concept this time was inseparability. The subject of the film are life and death, light and dark, which I didn't want to put against each other. In addition, this form had become too restrictive for me, had hardened into a formula that restricted my thinking and did not fit this film. Filmmaking is a spontaneous, organic process that must not be subject to dogmas. A movie is like an animal - every animal is different and you don't know how to tame it. Contrary to what Hitchcock said, for me the script is just the beginning. Even after the filming is finished, a lot is still open. A film tells you what it needs at every level.

Read the full interview in the current one tip 21/10 on pages 38-39.

Interview: Stella Donata Hague

Photo above: Sayombhu Mukdeeprom

tip rating: Outstanding

Places and times: "Uncle Boonmee ..." in the cinema in Berlin

Uncle Boonmee remembers his previous lives (Loong Boonmee raleuk chat), Thailand / E / D / GB / F 2010 Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul; Cast: Thanapat Saisaymar (Boonmee), Jenjira Pongpas (Jen), Sakda Kaewbuadee (Tong); 113 minutes

Theatrical release: September 30th

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