Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s upcoming Memoria gets a big deal

The 2020 release will be Joe’s widest North American run to date.

Words

Charles Bramesco

@intothecrevasse

Since the dawn of the millennium, filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul (known affectionately as “Joe” to people intimidated by his name’s many syllables) has been quietly making some of the most fascinating films in the world from his corner of Thailand. But early reports from the set of his next feature Memoria suggest that the national filmmaker may soon assume a more global spotlight.

The Hollywood Reporter broke the news from the American Film Market industry conference that Memoria has been picked up for a 2020 release by NEON, the distributor currently turning Parasite into a box-office hit in the United States. Though Joe’s work has been defiantly uncommercial in the past, the scant details already revealed form a picture of a film with wider appeal.

He’s leaving his home and his native language for the first time, shooting in Colombia and in English. In another first, he’s working with a bona fide movie star with a household name in the West, tapping Tilda Swinton for the lead role.

The cursory synopsis provided as of now, however, gives the impression of a more typically oblique piece of work. Swinton plays an orchid horticulturalist visiting her sister in Bogotá, where she makes the acquaintance of a local musician and a French archaeologist working on a project to construct a tunnel burrowing through the Andes mountains. The other note, inscrutable but evidently salient, is that Swinton’s character cannot sleep through the night due to loud banging noises of unknown origin.

It’s hard to imagine a world in which Joe fully sells out, but this could connect with a much wider audience than he’s used to, a notion that NEON clearly plans on seeing through. Expect a premiere at Cannes, a friendly home for his work in the past, before a release later in the year. Aside from that, do away with all expectations now.

Take a gander at the first still from set below…

Published 8 Nov 2019

Tags: Apichatpong Weerasethakul Tilda Swinton

Related Articles

Apichatpong Weerasethakul: ‘Steven Spielberg turned me on to making movies’

By Matt Thrift

The Thai master from the little town of Khon Kaen on the movies and directors that inspired him.

The European film festival putting Asian cinema on the map

By Joji Sakurai

The tiny Italian city of Udine once again welcomed the biggest names in the Asian film industry.

Hollywood’s lack of Asian-American representation, and how to fix it

By Greg Noone

The hosts of the Asian Oscar Bait podcast discuss the need for greater diversity on screen.

What are you looking for?

Little White Lies Logo

About Little White Lies

Little White Lies was established in 2005 as a bi-monthly print magazine committed to championing great movies and the talented people who make them. Combining cutting-edge design, illustration and journalism, we’ve been described as being “at the vanguard of the independent publishing movement.” Our reviews feature a unique tripartite ranking system that captures the different aspects of the movie-going experience. We believe in Truth & Movies.

Editorial

Design