thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul

January 25, 2010

Apichatpong Weerasethakul More at IMDbPro »

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Date of Birth

16 July 1970, Bangkok, Thailand

Nickname

Joe

Mini Biography

Apichatpong Weerasethakul (b. 1970, Bangkok) grew up in Khon Kaen, a city in the north east of Thailand. He has a degree in Architecture from Khon Kaen University and a Master of Fine Arts in Filmmaking from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has been making films and videos since the early 90s. He is one of the few filmmakers in Thailand who have worked outside the strict Thai studio system. In his films, he experiments with certain elements found in the dramatic plot structure of Thai television and radio programs, comics and old films. He finds his inspiration in small towns around the country. In his work, he often uses non-professional actors and improvised dialogue in exploring the shifting boundaries between documentary and fiction.

In 2000, he completed his first feature, Dokfa nai meuman (2000), a documentary that has been screened at many international festivals and received enthusiastic reviews and awards as well as being listed among the best films of the year 2000 by Film Comment and the Village Voice. He is active in promoting experimental and independent films through Kick the Machine, the company he founded in 1999. He is currently working on several video projects and a new feature, Tropical Malady.

IMDb Mini Biography By: Anonymous

Trade Mark

The opening credits always come in several minutes into the film.

Films are usually in two parts of parallels and contrasts.

Trivia

Graduated from Khon Kaen University in Thailand in 1994.

Received his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1997.

Worked as an architect and multi-media artist before becoming a filmmaker.

Both his parents were doctors. They had a practice in Khon Khaen.

Studied architecture.

Member of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008.

Personal Quotes

I was very shy, so I didn’t really interact well with others. My friends were the kids of doctors, because we all lived in the hospital housing unit. Even now I like hospitals – that sterilised smell, it brings back all these memories. I’d see a lot of sick and dying people, but at the time, I didn’t have a big philosophical way of thinking about illness and death. To me, it was just people – they come and go.

When Blissfully Yours won a prize at Cannes, a studio got interested and bought the distribution rights, but they didn’t understand this kind of film; they opened it in huge multiplexes, and people expected big entertainment. So my film really disappointed people.

Architecture taught me how to look at things and how to accommodate people in certain spaces. People experience space, beauty, in true time, and film is also like journeying through time.

Film is like a drug. It is a shelter when you cannot deal with reality.

Apichatpong Weerasethakul

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Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Born July 16, 1970 (1970-07-16) (age 39)
Bangkok, Thailand
Other name(s) Joe
Occupation Film director, producer & screenwriter
Years active 1993-present
Official website

Apichatpong Weerasethakul (better transliterated as Aphichaːtpong Wiːraʼseːthakun, Thai: อภิชาติพงศ์ วีระเศรษฐกุล, born July 16, 1970 in Bangkok, Thailand) is a Thai independent film director, screenwriter, and film producer. His feature films include Tropical Malady, which won a jury prize at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, Blissfully Yours, which won the top prize in the Un Certain Regard program at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival,[1] and Syndromes and a Century, which premiered at the 63rd Venice Film Festival and was the first Thai film to be entered in competition there.

Working outside the strict confines of the Thai film studio system, Apichatpong Weerasethakul has directed several features and dozens of short films. Themes reflected in his films (frequently discussed in interviews) include dreams, nature, sexuality (including his own homosexuality),[2] and Western perceptions of Thailand and Asia, and his films display a preference for unconventional narrative structures (like placing titles/credits at the middle of a film) and for working with non-actors. Cinephiles affectionately refer to him as “Joe” (a nickname that he, like many with similarly long Thai names, has adopted out of convenience).

Contents

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[edit] Biography

[edit] Mysterious Object at Noon

Apichatpong Weerasethkul’s parents were both physicians, and worked in a hospital in Khon Kaen, Thailand.[3] He attended Khon Kaen University and received a bachelor’s degree in architecture in 1994. He made his first short film, Bullet, in 1993. He attended the Art Institute of Chicago and received a master’s degree in fine arts in filmmaking in 1997.

His feature-length debut, Dokfa nai meuman (Mysterious Object at Noon) blends documentary footage and improvised narrative, and was conceptually based upon the exquisite corpse game invented by surrealists.

He formed his own production company, Kick the Machine, in 1999, through which he produces and promotes his own works, and provides support to other independent filmmakers and experimental film works.

[edit] Blissfully Yours, Tropical Malady

Apichatpong’s 2002 feature Sud Sanaeha (Blissfully Yours) won the Un Certain Regard prize at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival.[1] His 2004 Sud Pralad (Tropical Malady) won a Jury Prize from the same festival.

Between Blissfully Yours and Tropical Malady, Apichatpong co-directed The Adventure of Iron Pussy with artist Michael Shaowanasai, who starred as the main character, a transvestite secret agent. The low-budget, digital movie was a spoof of Thai films of the 1960s and ’70s, particularly the musicals and action films of Mitr Chaibancha and Petchara Chaowarat. It was screened at the Berlin Film Festival. Pop singer Krissada Terrence, better known as Noi from Pru, portrayed the male lead.

Along with his features, Apichatpong is known for his short films, videoworks and installations. For the Jeonju International Film Festival he was commissioned in the Three Digital Short Films project, which he shared with two other Asian directors. His film was called Worldly Desires. Shinya Tsukamoto from Japan made Haze and Song Il-gon from South Korea created Magician(s).

In 2005, Apichatpong served as the consultant on the Tsunami Digital Short Films, 13 films commissioned by the Thailand Culture Ministry’s Office of Contemporary Art and Culture as a memorial tribute to the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake and the resulting tsunami that struck Thailand. His film was called Ghost of Asia.

The Office of Contemporary Art and Culture also honoured Apichatpong with its 2005 Silpathorn Award for Filmmaking. The award, which goes each year to several artists in various disciplines, is given to living contemporary artists.

[edit] Syndromes and censorship

In 2006, Apichatpong released a feature film, Syndromes and a Century, which was commissioned by Peter Sellars for the New Crowned Hope Festival in Vienna to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Mozart‘s birth. It premiered at the 63rd Venice Film Festival and screened at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival and many other festivals.

The film’s Thai release, originally slated for April 19, 2007, was indefinitely delayed after Thai Censorship Board demanded the removal of four scenes. Apichatpong refused to recut the film and said he would withdraw it from domestic circulation.

He explained his reasons for doing so in an article in the Bangkok Post:

I, as a filmmaker, treat my works as I do my own sons or daughters. I don’t care if people are fond of them or despise them, as long as I created them with my best intentions and efforts. If these offspring of mine cannot live in their own country for whatever reason, let them be free. There is no reason to mutilate them in fear of the system. Otherwise there is no reason for one to continue making art.[4]

Two of the “sensitive” scenes involve doctors engaging in “inappropriate” conduct (kissing and drinking liquor) in a hospital; the others depict a Buddhist monk playing a guitar and two monks playing with a remote-control flying saucer.[4] The censors refused to return the print unless the requested cuts were made.[5]

Later in 2007, the film was shown twice in privately arranged screenings at the Alliance française in Bangkok.

The censorship of the film came about as a motion picture ratings system was being considered by the junta-appointed National Legislative Assembly. A replacement for the 1930 film act, the ratings law contained a restrictive ratings structure and retained the government’s powers to censor and ban films it deemed would “undermine or disrupt social order and moral decency, or that might impact national security or the pride of the nation”. The ratings board would comprise mainly bureaucrats in the Ministry of Culture, as well as members of the Royal Thai Police.[6]

To oppose the draft law, Apichatpong and other directors formed the Free Thai Cinema Movement.

“We disagree with the right of the state to ban films,” Apichatpong was quoted as saying. “There already are other laws that cover potential wrongdoings by filmmakers.”[7]

Ladda Tangsupachai, director of the Ministry of Culture’s Cultural Surveillance Department, said the ratings law was needed because moviegoers in Thailand are “uneducated”. “They’re not intellectuals, that’s why we need ratings,” she was quoted as saying.[8]

Ladda also said: “Nobody goes to see films by Apichatpong. Thai people want to see comedy. We like a laugh.”[8]

The filmmakers sought a self-regulation approach, with an independent body run by film professionals. “Free from state influence, this agency would be responsible for monitoring and assigning rating, and it would bear direct responsibilities towards the audience, who in turn would monitor the performance of the agency. This way, the film industry will be liberated from the state’s shackles and begin to have a dialogue with the public,” Apichatpong had written in a commentary earlier in the year.[9]

Protests against the draft ratings law were held outside the Parliament building in Bangkok, with Apichatpong and fellow Thai directors Wisit Sasanatieng and Pen-Ek Ratanaruang taking turns holding banners that read “No Freedom. No Democracy. No Peace”[7][10]

The ratings law, with the cut-and-ban categories left intact, was passed on December 20, 2007.[6]

This first English-language volume on Apichatpong Weerasethakul will be published March 2009. James Quandt, the editor and author of the analytical career overview which introduces the book, is one of the foremost film critics and curators working in North America today. Further contributors include the cultural and political theorist Benedict Anderson, filmmaker Mark Cousins, art curator Karen Newman, critics Tony Rayns and Kong Rithdee, and the Academy Award winning actress and cinephile Tilda Swinton.

[edit] Future works

Among the works in development is Utopia, a co-production with DViant Films of Los Angeles. It is to be a fantasy about a prehistoric man living in a jungle where there are periodic snowstorms. He presented his project at the 2006 Hong Kong Film Financing Forum and the Atelier section of the 2006 Cannes Film Festival.[11]

In September 2009 Apichatpong’s seven screen installation “Primitive’ premiere’s in the UK at FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) [12] in Liverpool, UK. The work was commissioned by Haus der Kunst, Munich with FACT, and Animate Projects and was produced by Illuminations Films, London with Kick the Machine, Bangkok [13]. It was first shown at Haus der Kunst in February 2009.

[edit] Filmography

[edit] Feature films

[edit] Short films and installations

  • Bullet (1993)
  • 0116643225059 (1994)
  • Kitchen and Bedroom (1994)
  • Like the Relentless Fury of the Pounding Waves (1996)
  • Rice Artist Michael Shaowanasai‘s Performance (1996)
  • 100 Years of Thai Cinema (for Thai Film Foundation, 1997)
  • thirdworld (1998)
  • The Lungara Eating Jell-O (for World Artists for Tibet, 1998)
  • Windows (1999)
  • Malee and the Boy (1999)
  • Boys at Noon (2000)
  • Boys at Noon / Girls at Night (2000)
  • Haunted Houses Project: Thailand (for Istanbul Biennial, 2001)
  • Secret Love Affair (for Tirana) (2001)
  • Narratives: Masumi Is a PC Operator / Fumiyo Is a Designer / I Was Sketching / Swan’s Blood (for Intercross Creative Center, 2001)
  • Second Love in Hong Kong, co-director (2002)
  • Golden Ship (for Memlingmuseum, 2002)
  • This and Million More Lights (for 46664, 2003)
  • GRAF: Tong / Love Song / Tone (2004)
  • It Is Possible That Only Your Heart Is Not Enough to Find You a True Love: True Love in Green / True Love in White (for Busan Biennial, 2004)
  • Worldly Desires (for Jeonju International Film Festival, 2004)
  • Ghost of Asia, co-director (for Tsunami Digital Short Films project, 2005)
  • Waterfall (for Solar Cinematic Art Gallery/Curtas Vila do Conde International Film Festival, 2006)
  • Faith (for FACT/Liverpool Biennial, 2006)
  • The Anthem (for LUX/Frieze Art Fair, 2006)
  • Unknown Forces (for REDCAT, 2007)
  • Luminous People (in The State of the World, 2007)
  • Because (2007)
  • My Mother’s Garden (for Christian Dior, 2007)
  • Meteorites (for Short Films for the King Bhumibol Adulyadej‘s 80th Birthday, 2007)
  • The Palace (for National Palace Museum, 2007)
  • Emerald (2007)
  • Vampire (for Louis Vuitton, 2008)
  • Phantoms of Nabua (for Toronto International Film Festival, 2009)

[edit] References

[edit] Contributions

2008 Life on Mars, the 2008 Carnegie International [1]

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ a b “Festival de Cannes: Blissfully Yours”. festival-cannes.com. http://www.festival-cannes.com/en/archives/ficheFilm/id/3102934/year/2002.html. Retrieved 2009-10-31.
  2. ^ “Creating His Own Language: An Interview With Apichatpong Weerasethakul”, Romers, H. Cineaste, page 34, vol. 30, no. 4, Fall 2005, New York
  3. ^ Rithdee, Kong (July 28, 2006). Everything is illuminated, Bangkok Post (retrieved July 28, 2006).
  4. ^ a b Rithdee, Kong. Thai director cancels film’s local release, Bangkok Post; retrieved 2008-01-23
  5. ^ Weerasethakul, Apichatpong. September 14, 2007. Who can save my flying saucer?, The Guardian; retrieved 2007-09-15
  6. ^ a b Rithdee, Kong. December 20, 2007. Thailand passes controversial film act, Variety (magazine); retrieved 2008-01-23
  7. ^ a b Rithdee, Kong. November 28, 2007. Directors protest censorship law, Variety (magazine); retrieved 2008-01-23
  8. ^ a b Montlake, Simon. October 11, 2007. Will Thai reforms make censorship worse?, Time (magazine); retrieved 2008-01-23
  9. ^ Weerasethakul, Apichatpong. August 11, 2007. The folly and future of Thai cinema under military dictatorship, Bangkok Post; retrieved via Thai Film Foundation, 2008-01-23
  10. ^ คนรักหนังขอเปลี่ยนม้วน ‘พ.ร.บ.ภาพยนตร์’ ฉบับ โลกแคบ-ใจแคบ, Prachatai; retrieved 2008-01-23 (Thai)
  11. ^ “Project 24” (PDF), Hong Kong Filmart. Retrieved February 16, 2006.
  12. ^ http://www.fact.co.uk/whatson/detail/?infoID=4197846597106420065
  13. ^ http://www.animateprojects.org/films/by_project/primitive/primitive

[edit] External links

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