Our jury president for the concorso internazionale Apichatpong Weerasethakul has chosen to show, for the first time in Switzerland, his new film Mekong Hotel that screened at the Cannes Festival in the Official Selection – out of competition.
The entire film is set in a riverbank hotel in north-east Thailand. In this almost deserted hotel, a young woman and her mother – the hotel owner, suspected of being a vampiric creature feeding off human flesh and able to change her appearance at will – have conversations with two young lovers.
The film builds a strong sense of connection between the calm, limpid everyday imagery - perturbed only by the mother’s bizarre and bloody actions - and the conversations about local legends, rather in the way some fantasy films play on the discrepancies between what is said and what is seen in them.
A sequence showing the filmmaker at work also references a self-reflexive tradition in modern cinema, while another, of a guitarist playing his instrument, leads us to believe that the music we hear throughout most of the film is diegetic.
Mekong Hotel, a lovely, melancholic daydream of around an hour’s length, was co-produced by the British company Illuminations Films and commissioned by the Arte France programme La Lucarne. This programme’s editor Luciano Rigolini has recently commissioned documentaries by Alexander Sokurov, Alain Cavalier, Naomi Kawase, Stephen Dwoskin, Ben Rivers, Ben Russell and many others besides.
Luciano Rigolini is also a jury member at Locarno this year, for the Filmmakers of the Present competition. Apart from Mekong Hotel, the Festival del film Locarno is also presenting La Lucarne’s latest two co-productions as Fuori concorso world premières. In Naomi Kawase’s Chiri very fine documentary about her foster-mother’s final days, the Japanese filmmaker continues her fascinating trajectory as a first-person essayist, and her most recent works are the subject of a special tribute at this year’s festival. Age Is…, is a final and overwhelming lyrical essay by Stephen Dwoskin about growing old.
The American filmmaker, based in England, with a remarkable body of avant-garde work to his credit, died after a very long illness on June 28 last year at the age of 73. This 65th edition of the Festival del film Locarno is dedicated to him.
A conversation with Naomi Kawase, moderated by Jean-Michel Frodon, will take place on Thursday 2 August at 13h30 at the Forum.
A conversation with Apichatpong Weerasethakul moderated by Hans Ulrich Obrist will take place on Saturday 4 August at 10h30 at the Forum.
[Olivier Père, 02 | 08 | 2012]