Asian Animist Fable Wins Top Prize At Cannes

'Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives’
The 2010 Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or Winner
Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul's ‘Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives’ last night won the 2010 Cannes Film Festivals most coveted prize, the Palme d’Or.

Infused with the spirit of Asian Buddhism, the film is an animist tale of mortality, karma and the spirits who attach themselves to the living; a meditation on the landscape, the relationships we have with people and ultimately the care we give and receive. Uncle Boonmee has foretold his own death and knows from self diagnosis (and a failing kidney) that he only has two days to live. He wishes to die surrounded by family and urged by a visit from his deceased wife he undertakes a journey through the jungle to a place he is spiritually drawn to. Cue the appearance of a prodigal monkey son, catfish who have intimate relations with princesses and the quest to find the cave in which he was born in his first life. The enchantment lies in the manner in which the extraordinary and fantastical are encountered with pragmatism and barely the blink of an eyelid.

The impeccably gracious director who previous films have included ‘Blissfully Yours’, ‘Tropical Malady’ and ‘Syndromes And A Century’ said during his speech “I’d like to thank all the spirits and ghosts in Thailand. They made it possible for me to be here.”

Already lauded within the film community, this huge win has cemented Weerasethakul’s reputation as a director with great vision and an appreciation of the poetry and enchantment of the cinematic experience. Seen as an outsider in the competition by many it’s not such a great surprise when one considers Tim Burton was at the helm of the jury. He was quoted as saying of the film. “I just felt it was like a beautiful strange dream that you don’t see very often”.

The big Hollywood hitters of the festival such as Ridley Scott and Oliver Stone were deemed disappointing whereas the British contingent of Mike Leigh, Ken Loach, and Stephen Frears were unanimously applauded especially Leigh’s ‘Another Year’ starring Jim Broadbent and Lesley Manville. Other winners from the night included:

Best director - Mathieu Amalric ‘On Tour’
Best actress - Juliette Binoche ‘Certified Copy’
Best actor- Javier Bardem ‘Biutiful’ and Elio Germano ‘Our Life’ (shared)
Best screenplay - Lee Chang-Dong ‘Poetry’
Grand Prix - Xavier Beauvois ‘Of Gods and Men’
Jury Prize - Mahamat-Saleh Haroun ‘A Screaming Man’


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