Apichatpong Weerasethakul: the Nabua Diptych

The fascinating Thai director, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, has set two short films  in the village of Nabua in northeastern Thailand.  The Auteurs recently released, for free, the second short, A Letter to Uncle Boonmee. The first, Phantoms of Nabua, can be viewed at Animate Projects.

Both can be watched online for free and if you have an interest in current art film, this is what gets cinephiles very worked up. The emphasis is on art here, while Apichatpong has directed some more narrative “traditional” films, these short pieces are to be enjoyed for their aesthetic, not story.

Film critic Michael Sicinski writes a great critique of the two pieces which put them into the historical and cultural context that Apichatpong (aka “Joe” to his fans) draws upon on these two strangely beautiful ambient pieces.  I am especially impressed by the sound design and amazing wind sounds contained in these shorts.

“Nabua was an occupied town from the 1960s to the early 80s, when military forces considered it a stronghold for Communist farmers. It was a scene of intense brutality and repression, and many of those who were not executed by the government forces had to flee to escape a similar fate. In a stunning act of political avant-gardism, Joe has adapted Thai Buddhist tenets regarding reincarnation as a means for excavating the hidden history of a troubled landscape. As his camera slowly creeps and pans through darkened, abandoned homes, Apichatpong is displaying the remnants of a repressed past, in the form of an assertion of ghostly, vertical time.”

Thanks to The Auteurs for making this work available.

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