Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

Thanapat Saisaymar and Natthakarn Aphaiwonk in UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES, a film by Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Picture courtesy Strand Releasing. All rights reserved.

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010/2011)

Opened: 03/02/2011 Limited

Film Forum/NYC03/02/2011 - 03/29/201128 days
Laemmle's Roya...03/04/2011 - 03/17/201114 days
Sunset 5/LA03/18/2011 - 03/31/201114 days
Village East04/01/2011 - 04/07/20117 days
Music Box Thea...04/15/2011 - 04/24/201110 days

Trailer: Click for trailer

Websites: Home

Genre: Thai Comedy/Drama (In Thai w/English subtitles)

Rated: Unrated


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...


Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives was conceived as an integral part of the Primitive project. This project, all of which takes place in Isan province in the North-East of Thailand consists in addition to this feature of several works that focus on the teenagers of the village of Nabua. There is a seven screen installation Primitive, a single screen installation, Phantoms of Nabua, initially commissioned for continuing on-line presentation at www.animatedprojects.com and the short film A Letter to Uncle Boonmee. In addition Apichatpong Weerasethakul created in collaboration with Edizioni Zero, Milan, the artist's book CUJO which features documentation and photographs related to this project in Isan.

The installations and short film were commissioned by the Haus der Kunst (Munich), FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology), Liverpool where Primitive was presented in 2009 and by Animate Projects, London. They were produced by Kick the Machine Films and Illumination Films.

Director's Statement

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives is an homage to my home, and to a certain kind of cinema I grew up with.

I believe in the transmigration of souls between humans, plants, animals, and ghosts. Uncle Boonmee's story shows the relationship between man and animal and at the same time destroys the line dividing them. When the events are represented through cinema, they become shared memories of the crew, the cast, and the public. A new layer of (simulated) memory is augmented in the audience's experience. In this regard, filmmaking is like creating synthetic past lives. I am interested in exploring the innards of this time machine. There might be some mysterious forces waiting to be revealed just as certain things that used to be called black magic have been shown to be scientific facts. For me, filmmaking remains a source all of whose energy we haven't properly utilized. In the same way that we have not thoroughly explained the inner workings of the mind.

Additionally, I have become interested in the destruction and extinction processes of cultures and of species. For the past few years in Thailand, nationalism, fueled by the military coups, brought about a confrontation of ideologies. There is now a state agency that acts as a moral policeman to ban 'inappropriate' activities and to destroy their contents. It is impossible not to relate the story of Uncle Boonmee and his belief to this. He is an emblem of something that is about to disappear, something that erodes like the old kind of cinemas, theatres, the old acting styles that have no place in our contemporary landscape.

--Apichatpong Weerasethakul