Apichatpong Weerasethakul is an artist filmmaker from Thailand. In 2010 he won the Palm d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for his film Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. Más Arte Más Acción invited him to undertake a two-month residency at the Chocó Base and locations around Colombia. The residency provided an opportunity for Apichatpong to reflect on his ideas in relation to utopia and carry out research into a film he plans to make in Colombia. It took place following a special tribute at Cartagena’s International Film Festival in March 2017 and was supported by the Goethe Institute. The following thoughts were written at the Chocó Base.
COLOMBIAN SHORT STORIES
By Apichatpong Weerasethakul
This morning I heard the sound of gun shot, bang- bang-bang-bang. While in bed, I have heard this sound over and over many nights in many countries. The noise echoed and reverberated in my skull. I started to get really interested in them as they intensified during my journey in Colombia. Most of the time it was just before daybreak. Sometimes they were in dreams. I was wandering through a restaurant and could hear ‘Bang’ ‘Bang’, for example. I knew it was a dream because I thought to myself, ‘When I wake up I will write it down’.
I related this symptom to a psychiatrist in Cali as we were chatting about hallucination. She told me that maybe the sound was from the veins behind my ears. Maybe there was an internal pressure before sunrise. I thought whether there existed a symptom called Phantom Ears. Or maybe I was possessed by the sounds from the past.
– II –
One day in a street of Bogotá, I heard a loud ‘bang’. I quickly looked at the direction and saw a business man fall down onto the grass. He covered his head with both his hands. Further away, the people were looking and pointing at a bus that skidded to a halt. In turns out that one of its tires had exploded. The bus stood still, imbalanced, on one side of the road. The passengers were stepping down one by one. Pedestrians resumed their activities. Nearby, the man on the grass lifted his head, scanning the area. Then he sprang up and sprinted along the road. He ran very fast as if he was fleeing a shootout.
Delusion is about (mis)interpretation of reality. Living is delusion in process, with hits and misses. Dreaming is hallucinating. This private hallucination helps us place ourselves in the world. We have a constant overlapping of delusion and hallucination in our daily life. What went on in the business man’s head as he lay on the ground? His childhood may illuminate like a movie, with everyday spent, every dream recounted. He may have practiced shooting a gun with his peers in the forest, he may see a documentary of a mass killing somewhere, he may remember a time on a beach at night and there was a loud thunder, ‘Bang’, that he mistook for guerrillas shooting villagers. It was perhaps like an explosion of dream.
– III –
Sofiane started a journey after his break-up with his girlfriend, and probably as a way to keep a distance from his mother who bounds minutes of her life to Allah. A year or so later, he is in Colombia, in a forest, his back to a rock, with a waterfall thundering onto his head and shoulders. This Eden is one of numerous vistas that he had visited. Along his journey he makes video clips of himself in sunglasses, smiling in tune to the music as the camera captures wondrous sites hardly visited by tourists. The videos are for his mother who is ready to call any embassy for her son’s whereabouts. Her concern is maybe based on his open arms to the world. Back in their home in Brittany, France, he was once a minor drug dealer. In prison, he was active in selling drugs, and with free meals and lots of time inside, he managed to buy his mom a new house in Algeria. That didn’t bother his mom’s relationship with Allah.
The music videos are either Sofiane’s revenge or an invitation to freedom, to the woman he cannot break away from. They are also his merchandise, as he shows them to strangers who see the clips as the dreams they never live. The 1 to 2-minute clips on a phone in exchange for companionship. Like a bottle on the sea, Sofiane continues to create more dreams of uncharted routes. A life devoid of routines. A morning’s consciousness when our ears, eyes, and arms are opened, unguarded. A tease. A scenario.