Acclaimed Thai film auteur Apichatpong Weerasethakul has revealed that he will make a feature that’s inspired by the work of sci-fic writer Arthur C. Clarke. The director plans to shoot the screen adaptation in Sri Lanka, Deadline is reporting.
Weerasethakul revealed the news about his next movie during an interview to promote screenings of his 2021 fantasy drama, Memoria, at the Metrograph theatre in a 35MM print starting today. The movie’s screenings at the New York-based theater comes after it had a staggered, theatrical-only rollout over the past year
During the interview with the Metrograph theatre, the movie’s writer-director-co-producer said he may partner with a streamer on his upcoming project. He added that he plans to start location scouting in Sri Lanka next month, and hopes the film will be “more flexible” than Memoria.
Weerasethaku told Metrograph’s film journal that his next movie will “be a smaller budget, and probably with [my long-time actors] Jenjira [Pongpas] and Sakda [Kaewbuadee]. It’s the same old gang.”
The filmmaker left his native Thailand to shoot Memoria in Colombia with Tilda Swinton. It went on to win the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2021. The scribe-helmer won the same prize for his 2004 romantic psychological drama, Tropical Malady, and the Cannes Palme d’Or in 2010 for Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives.
While discussing Memoria‘s shoot, Weerasethakul said: “In Colombia, it was more complicated because of the bigger production, the language.” For his next drama, he added: “For Sri Lanka, I don’t know if it’s possible, but I’d like to not have a concrete list of things to shoot each day. What would be the same as in Colombia is the mode of not knowing what you want.
“After Colombia, I want to be closer to home,” the filmmaker added about his upcoming project. “And to be even more free, to not control everything and just let things flow – as in, the freedom to jump into the new territory. I was thinking of Mysterious Object at Noon. What we were doing, in 1999, there was a kind of freedom to it. It really was an experiment.”
While Weerasethakul didn’t explain how Clarke has inspired the upcoming movie, the director did reference the writer’s connection to the South Asian country: “He lived and died in Sri Lanka, and one of his books, The Fountains of Paradise, is set in a fictional land based on a Sri Lankan landscape.”
Clarke also wrote the acclaimed 1968 sci-fi novel 2001: A Space Odyssey. The book was adapted into an Oscar-winning movie that was directed by Stanley Kubrick and released the same year.
Weerasethakul said another source of inspiration for his upcoming film is an article written by a Thai woman who went to Sri Lanka on a religious pilgrimage. “She speaks about climbing a holy mountain, the same one that inspired Clarke’s story, so I’m going to go check it out,” he shared.
The screenwriter added that his upcoming movie may be his longest project yet. He’s penned a “treatment for a three or four-hour movie, just from my imagination, from what I dream about.”
Weerasethakul added: “The human attention span is 90 minutes, and the dream cycle is also 90 minutes. To make it longer is like a challenge: how to create a journey where you don’t feel trapped by this human, biological requirement.”