Something exciting is happening in Thailand: the country appears to be the new center of Asian film, and a new wave of Thai films is showing up around the world. The Walker is pleased to bring director Apichatpong Weerasethakul (A-pich-at-pong Wair-a-seth-ical) to Minneapolis for a retrospective of his films and a Regis Dialogue with the critic who is chronicling this Thai renaissance, Chuck Stephens.
Trained first as an architect, Weerasethakul later studied film in the United States. Addressing the hybridization of genre in his work, he says, “I am interested in the possibilities of involving both fact and fiction in one film, with each of them intersecting and supporting each other. I was not thinking much about revolutionizing the narrative method.” Yet Joe (the name he goes by in the Western world) has done just that. Making their way rapidly to the world stage, his works are shaking the foundations of the narrative film. His genre-shifting includes documenting rural people making up stories to create a new fiction, or mixing the reality of social conditions of immigrants with the allegory of primeval forests. His first three features have earned him global acclaim; Blissfully Yours received the Prix Un Certain Regard award at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival, and at the 2004 festival he won the Cannes Jury Prize for Tropical Malady. His films have scored atop the Village Voice’s “Best of” polls. Just as he explores shape-shifting in Thai myths, Weerasethakul shifts viewers’ expectations while creating a new language of cinema.