Thai film scoops the Palme D’or at the Cannes Film Festival

Before his dramatic win at the Cannes Film Festival this year, many of you will probably have never heard of the Thai film director, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, better known as “Joe”.

He made his first short film “Bullet” in 1993, whilst studying for an architecture degree at Khon Kaen University. He later received a master’s degree in fine arts from the “School of the Art Institute” in Chicago.

But it was his love of film that led to him forming his own production company in 1999, called “Kick the Machine”. This was to provide a vehicle for him to produce and distribute his own material whilst providing support to other up-and coming young film-makers. Joe made his feature-length directorial debut the following year, with the film “Mysterious Object at Noon”, which was an eclectic mix of documentary footage and spontaneous, off-the-cuff narrative.

This quickly established him as one of the leading lights in the Thai film industry and won him a broad fan base. He came to the attention of Western “art-house” audiences in 2004, with the release of “Tropical Malady”, a film which starts by charting the relationship between a soldier and a young farm worker, but slowly becomes a dream-like fantasy, full of Freudian-style suggestion, sex and death. Tropical Malady won a “Jury Prize” at the Cannes Film Festival that year.

Two years later he was commissioned by Peter Sellars, to create a movie for the “New Crowned Hope Festival” in Vienna and the result was “Syndromes and a Century”. The film was shown at both the Venice and Toronto Film Festivals, to huge critical acclaim.

However, the film brought him into to conflict with the Thai authorities. The “Thai Censorship Board” refused to allow the film to be shown in Thailand unless 4 scenes were removed that they had deemed to be “inappropriate”. Joe refused to compromise his artistic integrity and displaying the same spirit and free-will that he applies to his film-making, he and a number of other directors founded the “Free Thai Cinema Movement”, in order to challenge censorship laws.

Joe was propelled to superstar status this year, by winning the coveted “Palme D’or” at the Cannes Film Festival. His emotional and atmospheric film, entitled “Uncle Boonmee who can recall his past lives”, portrays the last days of dying man and shifts from scenes of real life to a phantasmagoric dream-world inhabited by ghosts and spirits.

Congratulations to Joe and everyone who worked on the film and I'm sure this will be a major boost for the Thai film industry. I hope it leads to more investment and encourages more young people to get involved in movie-making.

I recently read a good interview with Joe and it can be accessed by clicking the link below…..

The following article also gives you some more background on Joe……

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/asia/news/e3i6478fc41cf5464a55943f3ff6da955da

If you would like to know more about the Cannes Film Festival, you can access the official website through this link….

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