May 23, 2010

Avant garde Thai director wins Cannes’ Palme d’Or

Cannes, May 24 (DPA) 

Bangkok-born director Apichatpong Weerasethakul won top honours at the Cannes Film Festival Sunday for his movie about human beings taking on animal forms in the Thai jungle and a man celebrating his past lives.

Weerasethakul’s “Lung Boonmee Raluek Chat” (Uncle Boonmee who can recall his past lives) was one of 19 films vying for the Palme d’Or, one of the most prestigious awards in cinema.
The 39-year-old director told the gala ceremony that the experience of winning the award was “surreal”.

He said that 30 years ago his parents took him to the cinema but he was too young to know what was on the screen. “I didn’t know the concept of cinema,” he said. “With this award, I think I know a little more what cinema is, but it still remains a mystery. I think this mystery keeps us coming back here and to share our world.” Known as something of an avant garde filmmaker, Weerasethakul’s success in winning the Palme d’Or (Golden Palm) was also something of a surprise with his movie’s quirky story leaving some festival goers perplexed, while others were enthralled.

Weerasethakul has gained strong recognition at film festivals around the world over the years, wining the 2004 jury prize in Cannes for “Tropical Malady” about gay lovers and a trek to find a metamorphosed tiger. Two years earlier, he gained the festival’s Un Certain Regard section’s top prize for “Blissfully Yours”. This year’s race for the coveted Palme d’Or came down to less than a handful films, with many festival goers considering this year’s programme to be somewhat patchy. But then the motion-picture business is only slowly emerging from the financial crisis that swept the global economy over the last more than two years.