Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul filming Memoria in Colombia
by Davide Abbatescianni
- Filming of the critically acclaimed, Bangkok-born helmer's new drama kicked off on 19 August
Award-winning independent filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives [+see also:
film profile], Blissfully Yours) is finally working on his eighth solo feature film, the first to be shot outside Thailand. His most notable recent production was a segment included in the dystopian anthology film Ten Years Thailand, based on a similar format revolving around Hong Kong (made in 2015) and shown in the Special Screenings section at Cannes last year. The movie, directed by Weerasethakul with Aditya Assarat, Wisit Sasanatieng and Chulayarnon Siriphol, offered four different, speculative takes on a dystopian Thailand in 2028.
Filming for his new project, entitled Memoria, began on 19 August and will continue for eight weeks. The shoot will take place in the mountain village of Pijao, and in and around the capital city of Colombia, Bogotá. The idea for the script, penned in its entirety by Weerasethakul himself, came about during a holiday in Colombia, as the director was impressed by its natural beauty, juxtaposed with its turbulent, violent past. More precisely, he spent three months in the country and was particularly struck by a century-long construction project to tunnel through the Andes, which will play a decisive role in the plot.
The story of Memoria revolves around a Scottish orchid farmer (Tilda Switon) who is visiting her ill sister in Bogotá. While there, she befriends a French archaeologist (Jeanne Balibar) in charge of monitoring the construction project and a young musician (Elkin Diaz). Each night, she is bothered by increasingly loud bangs, which prevent her from getting any sleep. Along with Swinton, Balibar and Diaz, Mexican actor-director Daniel Gimenez Cacho (Chicuarotes, Zama [+see also:
interview: Lucrecia Martel
film profile]) and Colombian TV star Juan Pablo Urrego have been confirmed for the main cast. Moreover, the film's cinematography is being entrusted to Sayombhu Mukdeeprom (Suspiria [+see also:
film profile], the Arabian Nights [+see also:
interview: Miguel Gomes
film profile] trilogy), whose last collaboration with the director was on the set of Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives back in 2010.
Speaking about the production's location before the beginning of principal photography, the director said: “There’s something that has drawn me here. I am not quite sure what. It is a personal earthquake, a quiet madness. I am convinced that once I start shooting this film, I will sleep better.”
Memoria is being produced by Weerasethakul’s firm Kick the Machine (Thailand), Burning Blue (Colombia), Illuminations Films (UK), Anna Sanders Films (France), Match Factory Productions (Germany) and Piano Producciones (Mexico). Furthermore, Jia Zhangke’s Xstream Pictures (China), the Beijing Contemporary Art Foundation (China) and Bord Cadre Films (Switzerland) have recently boarded the production. The official release date is yet to be confirmed.
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