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Interview with Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Pt II

March 4, 2011
Still from "Syndromes and a century"

DT: Is there anything about the protests in Bangkok that relates to what you saw in those children of Nabua? In other words, was some aspect of what you admired in them on display during the protests?

AW: They’re very tough. When I worked with the kids, they’re teenagers and they have their own—I have to say some ignorance, and at the same time powerlessness because they’re not part of these political equations. Many of the Nabua villagers went to protest. I don’t think they went that last time, when 90 people were killed. They went before that. Along with the goal of protesting, I think they had the idea of being together, that was the first time they went to protest, and there was a sense of joy and fun in that, as much as political motivation. It’s a mixture – I don’t know how to say this – a mixture of learning and fun, like going on a trip or something.

DT: The mixture of excitement and anxiety is what Boonmee mentions in the movie. He’s asking his dead wife about the mixture of fear and excitement she felt before dying. He wants to know what to expect as he’s facing death himself.

AW: Right, right. But in terms of political motivation, I don’t know if they understood what they were doing, going on a train like that. It’s the same with many people on the street. But there’s a sense of banding together and being in a different place, and demanding change.

For me I have mixed feelings. Of course I support them because it’s one of the rare actions that they can take to say, “Hey, we are here! It’s our country.” But at the same time the tactics of their leaders bring so many different opinions. Sometimes for outsiders, or even for me, I’m confused about what they really want. So imagine for them! It would be even more confusing, I think, in the middle of the crowd.

DT: These are uncertain times in Thailand. Do you have any fears as you return there, with the uncertainties of what lies ahead?

AW: No. I feel that it’s like a magnet that draws me in. It’s a country that’s changing. I think it’s a very good time to witness this change. But at the same time you feel that this is very unstable ground. Let’s say we’re living in an earthquake zone. You don’t know how big it’s going to be, but it’s going to be an earthquake.

DT: In the past you faced censorship from the Thai film industry and government. Do you now feel more supported by Thai audiences than in the past?

Uncle Boonmee is about to die..

Uncle Boonmee is about to die..

AW: I think so. The Cannes award has opened doors to people who haven’t seen my films before. And many feel connected, while many still don’t. But it’s okay, I can get an audience. It’s good now, the theatre operators are open. They see a new way of getting money [laughs] to show these films by younger filmmakers. So we’re not just doing it by ourselves anymore, showing films to our friends. Now it has become more real. We show them to the public in an appropriate space!

DT: And there was no move to censor Boonmee in Thai screenings?

AW: No, no. We got the rating 15-plus rating. [Thailand’s rating systems has two more restrictive categories: 18-plus and 20-plus.]



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