The Thai artist and filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul was invited to MAMA for a Space to Reflect residency. The two-month residency involved traveling through different regions of the country to reflect on his ideas in relation to utopia, memory, dreams and myths that surround contemporary Colombia, especially in relation to the country’s armed conflict. His trip took in places such as Honda, Armero, Finlandia, Armenia, Cali, Medellín and Chocó. A selection of his films were screened in three cities, where he met other artists and filmmakers. Throughout his time in Colombia he was able to research ideas that would lead to his writing a script for a new film, to be shot in 2019. It would be his first feature film set outside his native Thailand.
During his two-month stay in Colombia, Canadian filmmaker and actor Connor Jessup, visited Apichatpong at the Chocó Base to make an intimate documentary about one of his favourite directors: A.W. A Portrait of Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Filmed at the Chocó Base the documentary offers a rare glimpse into the creative world of the filmmaker and the passions that feed his work.
The residency was made possible following an invitation to Colombia for the Cartagena Film Festival (FICCI) and was supported by the Goethe-Institut Colombia.
Colombian short stories
– I –
This morning I heard the sound of a gunshot, bang, bang, bang, bang! I have heard this sound again and again, being in bed in many countries. The noise resounded and resonated in my skull. I started to become very interested in the sounds as they intensified during my trip to Colombia. Most times I listened to them just before dawn. Sometimes I listened to them in my dreams. I was walking through a restaurant and I could hear bang, bang !, for example. I knew it was a dream because I thought to myself: when I wake up, I’ll write it down.
I told this to a psychiatrist in Cali while we talked about the hallucination. She told me that maybe the sound came from the veins behind my ears, that maybe it was an internal pressure before dawn. I thought if there was a symptom called “ghost ears” or maybe I was possessed by the sounds of the past.
– II –
One day, on a street in Bogotá, I heard a loud noise. I quickly looked and saw a man dressed in a business suit lying on the grass. He covered his head with both hands. I noticed that people watched and pointed from a bus that stopped. It turns out that one of his tires had exploded. The bus stopped, unbalanced, on the side of the road. The passengers went down one by one. The pedestrians resumed their activities. Nearby, the man in the grass lifted his head, scanning the area. Then he jumped and ran down the road. He ran very fast as if he was running away from a shooting.
The illusion is an (erroneous) interpretation of reality. Living is an illusion in process, with successes and mistakes. Dreaming is hallucinating. This private hallucination helps us to situate ourselves in the world. We have a constant superimposition of delusions and hallucinations in our daily lives. What went through the head of the businessman when he threw himself to the ground? His childhood could be illuminated as in a movie, with the days, with every dream. He may have practiced a shootout with his buddies in the forest, he may have seen a documentary of a mass murder somewhere, he might remember being on a beach at night and heard a loud thunder, ‘Bang’, and that he confused with a guerrilla fighter firing at civilians. It was maybe like a dream explosion.
– III –
Sofiane prepared a trip after finishing with his girlfriend and probably also to create some distance from his mother, who devotes all the minutes of his life to Allah. A year later, Sofiane is in Colombia, in a forest, with her back to a rock, with a tremulous waterfall on her head and shoulders. This paradise is one of the many landscapes that you have visited. Throughout his trip, he films himself with sunglasses and smiling in tune with the music in wonderful places visited by few tourists. The videos are for her mother who is ready to call any embassy to ask about the whereabouts of her son. This concern may be based on the fact that your child’s arms are very open to the world. In France he was once a minor drug dealer. In prison, he was still active in the sale of drugs, and with free food and a lot of free time, he managed to buy his mother a new house in Algeria. That did not interfere with his mother’s relationship with Allah.
The music videos are Sofiane’s revenge or an invitation to freedom, to the woman from whom she can not escape. They are also your merchandise, which teaches strangers who see in these clips, dreams that will never live. The clips of one or two minutes are shown on your cell phone in exchange for some company. Like a bottle in the sea, Sofiane continues to create more dreams of unexplored routes. A life devoid of routines. A conscience in the morning when our ears, eyes and arms open, unguarded. A provocation. A stage.