It’s coming on three years since filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul bewitched audiences with his strange, cryptic and beautiful Palme d’Or-winning “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall Past Lives.” The movie became a critical darling, and as much as a movie can that features fish sex, it brought the director to a broader international audience. But the filmmaker hasn’t been in a hurry to make a followup, and over the past couple of years has been focused on art installations and shorts (including the rather tepid “Mekong Hotel” which played Cannes last year), but it looks like he’s now ready to tackle another feature.
THR reveals that Weerasethakul is now seeking financing and production partners for “Cemetery Of Kings,” a project that sounds exactly like something you would expect from the director. ‘Boonmee’ & “Syndromes & A Century” star Jenjira Widner will play a nurse who cares for 27 soldiers who suffer from sleeping sickness in a town along the Mekong River. “Strange dreams, phantoms, a mysterious river creature, and tangled romances” will apparently all be involved, which pretty much makes sense.
The movie will address the political situation in Thailand and the monarchy history of the country (the title may have to be changed to prevent making too many waves). “You do have to be careful in Thailand — but I’ll find my own way of expressing myself,” he said, addressing any potential controversy.
The budget for the movie is running about $1 million, keeping in line with the cost of past Weerasethakul films, and that was a choice the director decided to make, even though he acknowledges his recent success could likely bring him more money to work with if he wanted it. “With a higher budget, you’re never as flexible,” he said. “I find flexibility is a very happy way of working. And it also depends on the project – the next film after this one is more ambitious in terms of financing.”
But what could that project be? Perhaps one he’s thinking about making in Bangladesh. “For the past six months I have been working at the Sharjah Biennial. My boyfriend and I created an installation about a guy from Bangladesh and got to know him, and now I’m very intrigued about it,” the director teased. “The landscape, monsoons, and the people – it’s a very active and powerful setting.”
No word yet on when ‘Cemetery’ might arrive, but hopefully the money comes together soon, and if it does, perhaps another return to Cannes for the filmmaker in 2014?