July 8, 2011 §
Apichatpong Weerasethakul, A Letter to Uncle Boonmee, Thailand 2009
By far the best film I saw in Wavelengths was A Letter to Uncle Boonmee (2009) by Apichatpong Weersethakul. In a landscape of pretenders, Weersethakul is the real deal: an artist working at the leading edge of cinematic practice today. Far from keeping his audience at the formalised distance so characteristic of the avant-garde ethos, he makes full use of cinema’s ability to immerse viewers in an experience of time and place. As with Weersethakul’s features, A Letter… is highly evocative of its location (in a luscious, rain-soaked Nabua in northeastern Thailand), but otherwise has little in common with conventional narrative cinema. Lacking the perspective of any view of the horizon, panoramic shots of the jungle work to create an interior space, inside of which the film situates the viewer. Matching the circular movement of the camera is the narrator’s repeat readings of the titular letter. Far from being an exercise in cinematic distanciation, Weersethakul makes believers
of us all.
July 8, 2011 §
Vassily Bourikas programmes the Experimental Forum at the Thessalonikki International Film Festival. His passion for the format, combined with an exceptional ability to root-out lost and forgotten film artifacts, make for viewing experiences quite unlike any other. His Amantes Sunt Amentes programme, seen at the 50th edition of TIFF in November 2009, brought together: unknown 8-gage films by the Serb, Ljubomir Šimunić; an equally obscure feature-length film made by Hollywood character actor, Timothy Carey; Super-8 epics from Jeff Keen, an overlooked progenitor of the early British underground; and sui generis feature film experiments by the mad Italian theatre director, Carmelo Bene. Seen together, these works have the effect of demolishing notions one might have that experimental film is a completed project.