Cemetery of Splendour (ENCORE)

This program is co-presented by the CalArts School of Film/Video, Film at REDCAT and Los Angeles Filmforum with support from Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts.

A waking dream set in Khon Kaen, the lush stomping grounds of director Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s childhood, Cemetery of Splendour is a subtle fantasy focused on a group of former soldiers stricken by a debilitating “sleeping sickness” and housed in a clinic that rests atop a rumored burial ground for past kings of Thailand. Despite its urgent and quietly devastating nature, the soliders’ narcolepsy-esque disorder never seems quite clinical; the dream lives of the patients are of the utmost importance to their caretakers, managed by the glow of colored light therapy lamps. A crippled woman named Jenjira (long time Weerasethakul collaborator Jenjira Pongpas Widner) and a medium, who acts as an envoy between the slumbering men and their family members, emerge as the most significant of these caretakers, forming a strong and uniquely communicative bond with one of the men. A crystalline and meditative work of slow cinema, punctuated by the luminescence of the lamps in cool blue and blood red, Cemetery of Splendour delicately toes the line between a cinema of quiet intimacy and broader political allegory—with the haunting and touching image of the silenced men laid out above the bodies of silenced Kings.

Dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2015, DCP, 122 min.