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Tate Film Pioneers: Apichatpong Weerasethakul: Mirages

Apichatpong Weerasethakul Uncle Boonmee - woodland scene

To launch the newly refurbished Starr Auditorium, Tate is pleased to present the first full UK retrospective of internationally acclaimed Thai artist-filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Steeped in the beliefs, legends, superstitions and spirits animating life in rural Thailand, Weerasethakul’s films seamlessly navigate real and surreal worlds in lyrical, enigmatic ways. This weekend-long programme unveils the breadth and complexity of his unique cinematic language with a presentation of his most recent films, an all-night screening of earlier works – a Tate Film first – and a special lecture given by Weerasethakul. 

About Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Celebrated for his work in independent film and installation alike, Weerasethakul (born 1970, Thailand) epitomises the artist-filmmaker. His features and short films have won him widespread recognition and numerous festival prizes, including three of the Cannes Film Festival’s prestigious awards: Un Certain Regard prize for Blissfully Yours 2002, the Jury Prize for Tropical Malady 2004 and, finally, the Palme d’Or for Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall his Past Lives (ลุงบุญมีระลึกชาติ) 2010. His film and installation works have been acquired by major art museums and exhibited at leading institutions including the Haus der Kunst, Munich, and the New Museum, New York. Weerasethakul has participated in several biennials including, among others, the 7th Istanbul Biennial (2001) and dOCUMENTA(13) (2012), and has been awarded the inaugural Fine Prize at the 2008 Carnegie International, the 2013 Sharjah Biennial Prize and the 2014 Yanghyun Art Prize in South Korea. 

About the film programme

Apichatpong Weerasethakul: Mirages forms part of Tate Film’s Pioneers series, a programming strand showcasing filmmakers and artists whose works have proposed new approaches to cinema. This series anchors Tate Film’s Cinema Programme, presenting seminal works that challenge the boundaries between different traditions of film and art practice. Through his characteristically slow, non-linear narratives, Weerasethakul’s films structure elaborate reflections on memory, time and human relationships. Subtly inflected by the state politics and social memory ever-present in his landscapes, his dream-like scenarios have established a new aesthetic sensibility embedded in the issues and cultural beliefs shaping everyday life in Thailand. In addition to the effect his surreal yet astutely critical films have had on world cinema, Weerasethakul’s active defence of his works in the face of state censorship further contributes to the significant influence he has had on artists and filmmakers across the globe. 

This retrospective programme launches with the UK premiere of Weerasethakul’s short film Vapour 2015, followed by his most recent feature Cemetery of Splendour 2015, presented ahead of its theatrical release on 17 June. On Saturday evening, Weerasethakul provides insight into his filmmaking and artistic practice in a special lecture, which includes excerpts of his film and installation works. The lecture is followed by an all-night screening of films, including four programmes of short works composed by the artist himself for this occasion. The retrospective concludes with Weeresathakul’s two films inspired by the character of Uncle Boonmee, a lead-in to the opening of his immersive cinematic installation Primitive 2009 in June. Acquired by Tate in 2011, this eight-channel video work will be presented in The Tanks as part of the new collection displays. Together, Mirages and Primitive offer unique experiences of Weerasethakul’s works – the all-night screening taking on the durational aspect of an installation, and the installation presenting an immersive cinematic experience in the gallery space. 

Curated by Andrea Lissoni, Senior Curator, International Art (Film) with Carly Whitefield, Assistant Curator, Film, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul


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