© Kick the Machine Films / Burning / Anna Sanders Films / Match Factory Productions / ZDF / Arte / Piano 2021
Who needs a dose of calm, to take the time for contemplation? As the final stretch of the Cannes Film Festival approaches, Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul has given himself the mission of responding to our sometimes unformulated requests, that of spectators saturated with signs and images of all kinds. And not just on social media. Even in the Croisette bubble and its films from the top of the world production basket, this year we noticed strong signature effects, a general tendency to fill the void to an excess. A lot of talkative and noisy films, in short, as if it was necessary to show the muscles of cinema that had been prevented for too long. The one who won the Palme d’Or in 2010 for the splendid Uncle boonmee has decided to take another path, surveying precisely the void, digging it slowly but surely, until reaching a state close to levitation.
Memoria is the artist-filmmaker’s first film (of which a beautiful exhibition is currently taking place at IAC Villeurbanne, until November) shot outside Thailand. The price of a long maturation. After meeting Tilda Swinton in Cannes in the mid-2000s, Weerasethakul and Derek Jarman’s ex-fetish actress vowed to shape a joint project, nourished by their life experiences. Here is the result today, a film conceived as an escape, shot entirely in Colombia, a country that neither of them knew. Cinema as a change of scenery, in the literal sense of the term – the opposite of tourism. Cinema as a place of strangeness, too. It all starts here with a boom, a mysterious noise that Tilda Swinton’s character hears in her head when she wakes up, and that doctors struggle to identify. She patiently searches for its origin. The opportunity for the filmmaker to invent images and sounds from his interiority, his traumas, his loneliness, an experience that is sometimes arid but little by little bewitching.
The walker in the film puts fiction all the time to find meaning in her wandering. On the other side of the screen, we are asked for the same commitment, to accept to dive into “the depths of illusion ” and maybe look at our intimate black holes. We will finally be given the opportunity to touch the immensity of the world, stones, landscapes, and to share neither more nor less than the memories of other humans around us. Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s cinema touches in depth because it is a call to share the sensitive, to listen, to respect the boundaries between life and death, past and present. Memoria is embedded for a long time in people’s minds, like a soft but heady score, which deserves all the Palms in the world.
Memoria of Apichatpong Weerasethakul. In competition. Released in November.
Currently viewing: “Periphery of The Night” exhibition by Apichatpong Weerasethakul (IAC Villeurbanne).