Thai director in Cannes thinks of violence at home

Fri May 21, 2010 3:04pm EDT
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By Mike Davidson

CANNES, France (Reuters) - Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul comes to his fifth Cannes film festival with thoughts divided between the film he has in competition and the bloody and uncertain situation at home.

The film, "Uncle Boonmee who can recall his past lives," is a mystical exploration of themes related to reincarnation as a well-to-do farmer confronts his imminent death.

It follows "Blissfully Yours," which won the Un Certain Regard prize in 2002 and "Tropical Malady" which won the Jury Prize in 2004 and underlines his status as one of Thailand's most highly regarded film makers.

But the director said his thoughts mainly had been turned toward the violence that has occurred back home, where government forces and protesters in the "red shirt" movement have clashed repeatedly on the streets of Bangkok.

"I feel worried about my home town in Bangkok because when I was leaving, it was when the peak of the violence was happening, so my mind was more in Thailand," he told Reuters in an interview. "But now I'm here, I'm doing my job."

Calm has been restored after the worst political violence in modern Thai history left at least 53 dead and more than 400 wounded over six days but few believe the situation has been resolved in the long term.

"I hope for the best. Personally I think this kind of thing was bound to happen because of the gap between the poor and underprivileged and the rich," Weerasethakul said. "Our governments, present and past have been such a mess."

He said one of the biggest worries had been the fast-moving changes and wild rumors that circulated during the disturbances, all of which made it difficult to pin down what was happening.   Continued...

<p>Director Apichatpong Weerasethakul attends a news conference for the film Lung Boonmee Raluek Chat (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall his Past Lives) in competition at the 63rd Cannes Film Festival May 21, 2010. REUTERS/Yves Herman</p>