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‘Memoria’: Neon Sets Never-Ending Theatrical Tour for Weerasethakul’s Latest, One Screen at a Time

Exclusive: Tom Quinn and Apichatpong Weerasethakul want to "stop us in our tracks" to experience Colombia's Oscar submission via a most unusual release plan.

Memoria

“Memoria”

YouTube/screenshot

Distributor Neon has lined up a most unusual release plan for Thai filmmaker Apichatpong’s latest film “Memoria,” which won the Jury Prize at Cannes and is next playing at the New York Film Festival. IndieWire has the exclusive news on the release plan.

Rather than a traditional platform release in multiple theaters simultaneously, the Tilda Swinton-starring film will be rolled out with a “deliberate and methodical approach,” says Neon, “moving from city to city, theater to theater, week by week, playing in front of only one solitary audience at any given time.” The idea is to frame “Memoria” as a kind of never-ending, moving-image art exhibit. The film will only play in theaters, and it will not become available on DVD, on demand, or streaming platforms.

The launch will kick off at the IFC Center in New York on December 26, where it will play for a one-week exclusive theatrical run. After that, the film will “travel” to the next city, making its rounds throughout the country over a continuous string of week-long engagements. Each engagement will be available for a predetermined, finite amount of time, as audiences are invited to take the dreamlike plunge into Weerasethakul’s hypnotic brand of filmmaking. His past films include “Tropical Malady” and “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives.”

“Memoria” is now the Best International Feature Oscar submission from Colombia, where Weerasethakul shot the film for the first time, working outside his native Thailand and in the Spanish language. The film features an international cast of renowned actors including Swinton, Jeanne Balibar, and Colombian star Elkin Diaz. 

“For Memoria, [the] cinema experience is crucial or maybe the only way.  Let’s embrace the darkness and dream, one at a time,” Weerasethakul said.

A vocal advocate for the theatrical experience, Tilda Swinton said, “’Memoria’ is the perfect film for this. Big cinema or bust… Throughout the universe, in perpetuity.”

Neon founder and CEO Tom Quinn described the plan as meant “to truly pay homage to this existential gem was to build a sort of traveling mecca of cinema that has the capacity to stop us in our tracks.”

Per Neon, “‘Memoria’ is a profoundly serene film, inspired by the Thai director’s own memories and expressions combined with a historical excavation of Latin America.  The film lulls audiences into almost a dreamlike state, as they settle in to follow Jessica (Academy Award winner, Tilda Swinton), an expat in Bogota, who, after hearing a jarring sound at daybreak, begins experiencing a mysterious sensory syndrome while traversing the jungles of Colombia. In her search for the sounds’ origins she encounters both personal and collective ghosts in the surrounding landscapes.”

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