Date & Time:
Tue April 25, 2023
The Block Museum of Art
40 Arts Circle Drive
Evanston, IL 60208
Open to the public
Blessings of Cinema: Short Films with filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul
(Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2005-2018, 35mm and digital, Thai with English subtitles, approx. 82 min)
Throughout his accomplished career, Apichatpong Weerasethakul has created a prolific body of short films and installation videos alongside his celebrated feature films. “Blessings of Cinema” is a program of five meta-cinematic short works, made between 2005 and 2018, that playfully foreground the presence of the moving image apparatus, from the camera to the film crew, woven throughout Weerasethakul’s filmography.
Opening the program, THE ANTHEM (2006) is an “audio-visual purification service,” a blessing for the cinematic experience, and a ritual in 360 degrees on 35mm. Uninhibited and kinetic, MOBILE MEN (2008) is a portrait of intimate embodiment made by passing the camera from hand to hand while traversing the Thai countryside in the bed of a pickup truck. In WORLDLY DESIRES (2005), one of the more crystalline metafilms in this selection, Weerasethakul returns to the environment of his breakout features BLISSFULLY YOURS and TROPICAL MALADY to film a cluster of cinematic happenings. In the nocturnal jungle, a melodrama of fleeing lovers and a pop music video are mediated by viewfinders, rush reels, and proximity to film crews. In 2009’s A LETTER TO UNCLE BOONMEE—a prelude to the landmark 2010 feature UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES—two young men from Nabua read letters about location scouting for a film that will explore echoes of the brutal history of the filmmaker’s home region of northeastern Thailand. In BLUE (2018), the magic of movie-making and dreaming coalesce and ignite.
THE ANTHEM (2006, 35mm, 5 min)
“In Thailand, before each film screening, there will be a Royal Anthem before the feature presentation. The purpose is to honor the King. It is one of the rituals that embedded in the society before certain events to give a blessing to something or someone.
THE ANTHEM is part of Artist Cinemas, commissioned by Lux Artists Cinema, and Frieze Art Fair, UK. It is a film that praises and blesses the theater and the approaching feature for each screening.” – AW/Kick the Machine
MOBILE MEN (2008, 35mm transferred to DCP, 4 min)
Two young men in a pickup truck are filming themselves. Belonging to different parts of the world, through the use of a camera they are discovering each other. In a windy atmosphere, they initially film each other with close ups on parts of their bodies, then, little by little, they shoot their full figures. As the camera lenses change, a landscape of rice fields and a cinema crew get into the frame. The camera then reshoots the road and the men, as if we were witnessing a film rehearsal. When the frame goes back to shoot one of the two main characters who has tattoos over his body, the man lifts his shirt up and tears off a wired microphone that is taped to his chest. He then pastes it on the tattoo and cries out from the top of his lungs. The microphone picks up the heavy wind noise and the camera moves to captures his face. He looks directly at the camera, smiling.
MOBILE MEN is part of Stories on Human Rights by Filmmakers, Artists and Writers, a project marking the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. – AW/Kick the Machine
WORLDLY DESIRES (2005, DCP, 43 min)
“WORLDLY DESIRES is an experimental project wherein I invited a filmmaker friend, Pimpaka Towira, to shoot the love story by day and the song by night… The video is a little simulation of manners, dedicated to the memories of filmmaking in the jungle during the years 2001-2005.” – AW/Kick the Machine
A LETTER TO UNCLE BOONMEE (Primitive project) (2009, DCP, 18 min)
In Nabua in December 2008, I located several houses that I thought would be suitable as Uncle Boonmee’s house in the proposed feature film. This short film is a personal letter describing my Nabua to Uncle Boonmee.
The film is comprised of shots of the houses’ interiors in the evening. They are all deserted except one house with a group of young soldiers, played by some teens of Nabua. Two of them impersonate me by narrating the film.” – AW/Kick the Machine
BLUE (2018, DCP, 12 min)
“Between sleep and dreams, painted theatrical backdrops and the Thai forest at night, cinematic magic sparks a flame.” – BAMPFA
ON BLUE (2022, 17 min)
ON BLUE was inspired by the moments of awakening, of sunrise. When first light reaches the eyes, there is a profound sense of clarity. The color blue was giving way to the the morning gold.
ABLAZE (2016, 5 min)
Plays on layered images and light.
Approximate total runtime: 104 min
Following the screening, director Apichatpong Weerasethakul will appear for conversation and Q&A with Block Cinema curators Michael Metzger and Malia Haines-Stewart.
35mm print courtesy of LUX. Digital films courtesy of White Light/Kick the Machine.
Apichatpong Weerasethakul is a 2023 Hoffman Visiting Artist for Documentary Media, a short-term filmmaker residency at Northwestern’s School of Communications funded by a generous gift from Jane Steiner Hoffman and Michael Hoffman.
Co-presented with support from the Michael and Jane Hoffman Visiting Artist Series, the MFA in Documentary Media, the Department of Radio, Television, and Film, the School of Communication, and the Buffett Institute for Global Affairs at Northwestern, and in partnership with Conversations at the Edge at the Gene Siskel Film Center
About the artist:
Apichatpong Weerasethakul is recognized as one of the most original voices in contemporary cinema. His works draw upon the interplay between lived and cinematic time, Buddhism, and science fiction to explore memory and complex social issues. Weerasethakul’s features, short films, and installations have gained widespread international recognition and numerous awards, including the Cannes Palme d’Or in 2010 for UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES, the Cannes Jury Prize in 2021 for MEMORIA and in 2014 for TROPICAL MALADY, and the Cannes Un Certain Regard Award in 2002 for BLISSFULLY YOURS. His installations have been exhibited and collected by institutions around the world. He is the recipient of the Sharjah Biennial Prize, the prestigious Yanghyun Prize in South Korea, and the 2016 Principal Prince Claus Award from the Netherlands.
A Note on Attendance:
This event is free, but RSVP through the Block Museum Eventbrite listing is required. RSVPs are limited to 1 per person. Registration does NOT guarantee a seat. Admission for registered guests will begin at 5:15 PM. A standby line will open at 5:00 PM for guests who were not able to register online; at 5:50 PM, unclaimed seats will be opened to standby attendees. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Image credit: THE ANTHEM (2006)
Contact The Block Museum of Art for more information: (847) 491-4000 or email us at email@example.com