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.
“The situation has been changing day by day, even minute by minute,” he said.
“When I got to the airport, there was a curfew, just like that, a curfew announced. Then there was a rumor — but only a rumor — that there would be multiple bombs in the city and random killings.”
“That’s part of the worry, this unpredictability.”
Writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Michael Roddy