Thailand hails welcome victory at Cannes film festival

Thailand on Monday hailed Apichatpong Weerasethakul's surprise win at the Cannes film festival as a much-needed boost for a nation that has been rocked by a deadly political crisis.

"It's brilliant. I deeply hoped that his film would win," said Culture Minister Teera Slukpetch, promising the avant garde film-maker a hero's welcome when he returns to Thailand.

"This kind of victory is what we really need at this time of crisis," he said, as the kingdom emerged from the worst civil unrest in modern history which has left 86 people dead and 1,900 injured since March.

Anti-government protesters were forcibly evicted last week from their protest encampment in the heart of Bangkok, ending two months of street rallies punctuated by deadly clashes between "Red Shirts" and security forces.

Apichatpong, 39, works outside the confines of Thailand's action-film studio system to make movies such as his victorious "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives", a dreamlike reincarnation tale.

The two-hour movie tells the story of a dying man, Boonmee, who meets spirits of the dead. Among the surprises, his son appears as a giant monkey and an old-world princess has watery sex with a talking catfish.

Apichatpong said after receiving the award from festival jury president Tim Burton that he wanted to thank "the spirits in Thailand that surrounded us" while making the film.

Winning the top prize, the Palme d'Or, was "like another world for me... this is surreal," he said.

The director last week denounced his country's tough censorship rules, but the culture minister was full of praise for his work and said the government had given financial support for the movie's post-production.

"The film's content is very good, it's about Thai belief and traditions," he said.

Songyos Sugmakanan, chairman of the Thai Film Directors' Association, said the morale-boosting impact of Apichartpong's win could be limited because he does not have a big following in his home country.

"But for me as a director, as a Thai person, I am very glad. His award has cheered my heart after feeling so sad in the past few weeks over what has been going on in Thailand," he told AFP.

Thai cinema-goers however mostly prefer Western blockbusters, action flicks and Asian horror films, and Apichatpong is better known in international arthouse circles than he is in his home country.

Ordinary citizens interviewed in Bangkok Monday, where the city was getting back to business after the mayhem of last week, were thrilled at the news of the honour - even if many had never had heard of Apichatpong before.

"Apitchatpong? I don't know him. Oh - he won a prize? I'm happy because he is Thai!" said Pawana Vejanurak, a suited 55-year-old woman on her way to work at a finance company.

Nattamon Issaradharm, a 56-year-old retiree who had heard of the film-maker but not seen any of his work, said the win was "good news" and would help repair Thailand's battered international reputation.

"After last week, this will help people boost their morale and bring unity," he said. "It shows young people we can do anything if we want to, that if we aim to develop the country, everything is possible."

Peech Pimarnpran, a trendily dressed 21-year-old student and a fan of Apichartpong's films, was thrilled at the recognition but conceded he might never find a mainstream audience.

"He is a good movie-maker because he uses no professional actors, it looks real, he can present real life and he shows how people can survive in Thai society," he said.

"He has his own style, it is quite serious, it's not commercial," he said. "He is an artist and normal people may not understand his movies."

Arts and Entertainment
Kathy (Sally Lindsay) in Ordinary Lies
tvReview: The seemingly dull Kathy proves her life is anything but a snoozefest
Arts and Entertainment

Listen to his collaboration with Naughty Boy

music
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig in a scene from ‘Spectre’, released in the UK on 23 October

film
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap

film
Arts and Entertainment

Poldark review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Katie Brayben is nominated for Best Actress in a Musical for her role as Carole King in Beautiful

film
Arts and Entertainment
Israeli-born actress Gal Gadot has been cast to play Wonder Woman
film
News
Top Gear presenter James May appears to be struggling with his new-found free time
people
Arts and Entertainment
Kendrick Lamar at the Made in America Festival in Los Angeles last summer
music
Arts and Entertainment
'Marley & Me' with Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Hamm (right) and John Slattery in the final series of Mad Men
tv
Arts and Entertainment
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
art
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

    The masterminds behind the election

    How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
    Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

    Machine Gun America

    The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
    The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

    The ethics of pet food

    Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
    How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
    11 best bedside tables

    11 best bedside tables

    It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
    Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

    Italy vs England player ratings

    Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
    Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

    Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat