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Oscar Watch: Thailand's Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

by Sydney Levine
December 15, 2010 4:30 AM
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This film received mucho publicity during Cannes but has very lttle visibility here in the U.S. in spite of its having been picked up for U.S. by Strand and its being Thailand's official submission for Academy Award Nomination for Best Foreign Language Oscar. I don't think it will be nominated as feels so off-kilter, albeit totally original. I don't think the Academy will have the patience for it. However, this Cannes winning competition film Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul is the penultimate example of how a film from a perhaps underfunded country can get enough financing to be made and delivered. The director, Apichatpong Weerasethakul , has already had two films in Cannes (Tropical Malady and Blissfully Yours) which certainly helps, but is not crucial to this saga. The Illumination Films producers Simon Fields and Keith Griffiths also have long histories in the international film and festival world. Simon left his long term tenure as head of London's govenment funded distribution company and archive to go to his long held tenure as artistic director of the Rotterdam Film Festival. Keith has been producing art films of the best kind since the late 70s.



Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

The cynic might say that all this is what made the film acceptable to Cannes. But in the international independent film world, acquaintance with the players can very soon lead a young inexperienced (but talented!) filmmaker along the same path. And to learn how to make international waves, it is necessary to learn who is swimming in international waters. It is important to know how such a film got made. All filmmakers, from the James Camerons to the Gregg Arakis and Apichatpong Wwerasethakuls to the still unrecognized filmmakers of the world would, if asked, acknowledge that it takes large and small miracles along the way to actually get a film made. My first awareness of this film was through the World Cinema Fund an initiative begun in 2004 at the Berlinale which develops co-operation strategies reflecting on cultural identities. Support from WCF often motivates other investors and institutions to participate in productions. Or perhaps it was from the Hubert Bals Fund the initiative operating at the Rotterdam Film Festival just prior to Berlin which funds development and post production of films from the developing countries of the world. Take a look at the credits of this film. Each producer or co-producer enabled funding of certain types to take place.

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives aka Lung Boonmee Raluek Chat.
UK/ Thailand/ France/ Germany/ Spain, 114 minutes

Suffering from acute kidney failure, Uncle Boonmee has chosen to spend his final days surrounded by his loved ones in the countryside. Surprisingly, the ghost of his deceased wife appears to care for him, and his long lost son returns home in a non-human form. Contemplating the reasons for his illness, Boonmee treks through the jungle with his family to a mysterious hilltop cave -- the birthplace of his first life...

Produced by:
Simon Field, Keith Griffiths - Illumination Films/Past Lives Productions (UK)
Apichatpong Weerasethakul - Kick the Machine Films (Thailand)

Co-Produced by:
Charles de Meaux - Anna Sanders Films (France) This brings French ticket receipt monies and other French subsidy dollars.
Michael Weber - The Match Factory (Germany). This guarantees international presales.
Hans W. Geissendoerfer - GFF Geissendoerfer Film- und Fernsehproduktion KG (Germany)
Luis Miñarro - Eddie Saeta, S.A. (Spain). This accesses Spanish or European coin.

In Association With:
ZDF/Arte (Germany) This brings production and TV money

With the Participation of:
Fonds Sud Cinema (France). French subsidies for developing countries.
Ministère de la culture et de la communication CNC (France). Insures a portion of movie ticket receipts will go toward film production.
Ministère des Affaires Etrangères et Européennes (France)

With the Support of:
Ministry of Culture (Thailand)
World Cinema Fund (Germany)
Hubert Bals Fund, International Film Festival Rotterdam (Netherlands)

Associate Producers:
Caroleen Feeney (USA)
Josslyn Barnes & Danny Glover - Louverture Films (USA)

In Association With:
Haus der Kunst, Munich (Germany)

Rights as reported have been picked up:
AUSTRIA STADTKINO-FILMVERLEIH
BELGIUM IMAGINE FILM DISTRIBUTION
CANADA FILMS WE LIKE
MEXICO MANTARRAYA PRODUCCIONES
NETHERLANDS FILM CINEMATHEEK
SINGAPORE LIGHTHOUSE PICTURES
SPAIN KARMA FILMS
USA STRAND RELEASING
TURKEY BIR FILM
GREECE AMAFILMS
SINGAPORE LIGHTHOUSE PICTURES
GERMANY MOVIENET
JAPAN MOVIOLA
SWITZERLAND TRIGON
CZECH REP ARTCAM
SLOVAKIA ARTCAM
NORWAY ARTHAUS
BRAZIL ASSOCIACAO BRASILEIRA DAS MICROCERVEJARIAS
ITALY BIM
BENELUX CONTACT FILM CINEMATHEEK
CANADA FILMSWELIKE
SWEDEN FOLKETS BIO
TAIWAN HIATUS
SPAIN KARMA FILMS
MEXICO MANTARRAYA
PORTUGAL MIDAS
U.K. NEW WAVE FILMS
FRANCE PYRAMIDE
AUSTRA STADTKINO
DENMARK SUNRISE
ISRAEL UNITED KING
GERMANY ZDF/ ARTE
ARGENTINA ZETA FILMS
PARAGUAY ZETA FILMS

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