Tuesday, 21 December 2010
Long Play: Uncle Boonmee and Le Quattro Volte
"Cinema is man's way to create alternate universes, other lives." Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
During February and March 2011, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image will present two standout films that screened in Cannes earlier this year: Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul's latest feature and winner of this year's Palme d'Or, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, and Italian director Michelangelo Frammartino's second feature and surprise discovery of the 2010 Cannes Directors' Fortnight, Le Quattro Volte (The Four Times).
In his final days, Uncle Boonmee surrounds himself with loved ones and returns to the countryside where he meets ghosts from his past and journeys to birthplace of his first life.
Filmed in Bangkok and the north-eastern Thai region of Isan, Uncle Boonmee is beautifully shot, creating a haunting world that explores themes of mortality, spirituality and reincarnation. The film was conceived as the final chapter in Weerasethakul's multi-media art series, Primitive, a project dealing with issues of memory and extinction.
Shot on 16mm film, Uncle Boonmee also acts as a subtle commentary on the challenges faced by cinema in a digital world. As Weerasethakul told the Bangkok Post: "When you make a film about recollection and death, you realise that cinema is also facing death. Uncle Boonmee is one of the last pictures shot on film - now everybody shoots digital. It's my own little lamentation."
Screening as part of Long Play, a program providing audiences with the opportunity to discover local and international films in extended runs at ACMI, Uncle Boonmee created history by becoming the first Thai film to win the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
Previously working as an architect and multi-media artist before he began making films in the 1990s, Weerasethakul's directing credits include Syndromes and a Century (2006), Tropical Malady (2004), Blissfully Yours (2002) and Mysterious Object at Noon (2000).
Joining Uncle Boonmee for an extended season at ACMI will be the new Italian feature film, Le Quattro Volte (The Four Times). Directed by Michelangelo Frammartino (The Gift), Le Quattro Volte explores themes of mortality and reincarnation, and draws many parallels with Uncle Boonmee.
Set in a small Italian village in the southern region of Calabria, Le Quattro Volte was a surprise discovery of the 2010 Cannes Directors' Fortnight. Dealing primarily with the philosophical idea of transmigration - the passing of the soul from human to animal to plant to mineral form - the film follows the journey of an elderly herdsman shifting its focus to his flock, then a ceremonial procession, then a forest, then a mountain range, moving steadily through the process of transmigration.
"Le Quattro Volte and Uncle Boonmee share an ethereal quality that goes beyond their subject matter and speaks directly to the tone of each film," says ACMI Film Programmer Kristy Mathieson. "They are superbly crafted, immersive cinema experiences that will confront, delight and transfix ACMI audiences."
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives screens exclusively at ACMI in Melbourne from Tuesday 22 February until Monday 14 March, 2011. Le Quattro Volte (The Four Times) screens exclusively at ACMI in Melbourne from Sunday 6 March until Tuesday 15 March, 2011.
Praise for Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives:
"Uncle Boonmee lights up with marvellous imagery and invention from its very first scene." IndieWIRE
"A visionary film" The Guardian
"A fabulous weave of magic" Daily Telegraph UK
Praise for Le Quattro Volte:
"A film of striking beauty and originality, Le Quattro Volte announces the confident arrival of the second Michelangelo of Italian cinema." Screen International
".a handsomely lensed docu-style meditation on the rhythms of nature." Variety
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