Apichatpong Weerasethakul On Colombia’s Oscar Entry ‘Memoria’: “I Really Treasure My Dreams” – Contenders International

Apichatpong Weerasethakul has long been an ambassador for his native Thailand, but his latest film—the Cannes Competition hit Memoria—was shot entirely in Colombia, which has chosen the film as its 2021 International Feature Oscar entry. Compounding the truly international flavor of the production, it stars the UK’s Tilda Swinton as a Scottish woman named Jessica who is in Bogotá to see her sister when a mysterious noise she hears at daybreak sets her on a mesmerizing journey of self-discovery.

In an unusual move, distributor Neon will give the film a bespoke roadshow release, moving “from city to city, theater to theater, week by week, playing in front of only one solitary audience at any given time.”

Speaking during a panel at Deadline’s Contenders Film: International award-season event, Weerasethakul explained that the project came about after a visit to the South American capital in 2017. “They had a tribute for me, to show my past films and stuff,” he recalled. “And I felt like, ‘Oh, this is like a funeral.’ It was very moving, though.” It was here that Weerasethakul saw his chance to end one chapter of his career and start another, citing the frustrating “political situation” in Thailand as another motivating factor. “So Columbia was a new path,” he said, “and so I spent a few months there traveling and meeting people and trying to synchronize with the place.”

Central to the film’s appeal is Swinton’s performance, which grounds the film and its existential mysteries. “Tilda’s up for anything,” Weerasethakul said. “That’s why I adore her, because, she always says yes to everything. [I adored] how she immersed herself in the film.” Tellingly, Swinton’s character suffers from insomnia, a condition that also affects the director. “That’s why I really treasure my dreams,” he reflected. “When I dream, that means I can sleep. I always keep a dream journal, and I wanted to make this film like a drifting state, in between waking and dreaming.”

Check back Monday for the panel video.

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