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Top 20 Alternative Picks for Cannes 2012: Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Mekong Hotel

Mekong Hotel – Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Buzz: Allegedly involving Tilda Swinton at some point and focusing on flooding and pig farming in the area surrounding the Mekong River, the festival surprised arthouse fans when they announced that this enigmatic project, with nary a detail surfacing in the weeks since. Coming off of a huge victory at Cannes in 2010, it’s a notably modest return to the Croisette for Thai Joe, but with him, cinephiles will take what they can get. Almost as buzzed-up is the news that another film by Weerasethakul – the 20-minute Ashes – will unspool in the Market a day before streaming for free on MUBI. Added all up and we’ve got ourselves almost 90 minutes of new material to play with.

The Gist: Mekong Hotel is a portrait of a hotel near the Mekong River in the north-east of Thailand. The river there marks the border between Thailand and Laos. In the bedrooms and terraces, Apichatpong held a rehearsal with his crew for a movie that he wrote years ago called Ecstasy Garden. The film shuffles different realms, fact and fiction, expressing the bonds between a vampire-like mother and her daughter, the young lovers and the river. Mekong Hotel – since it was shot at the time of the heavy flooding in Thailand – also weaves in layers of demolition, politics, and a drifting dream of the future.

Blake Williams is an avant-garde filmmaker born in Houston, currently living and working in Toronto. He recently entered the PhD program at University of Toronto's Cinema Studies Institute, and has screened his video work at TIFF (2011 & '12), Tribeca (2013), Images Festival (2012), Jihlava (2012), and the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley. Blake has contributed to's coverage for film festivals such as Cannes, TIFF, and Hot Docs. Top Films From Contemporary Film Auteurs: Almodóvar (Talk to Her), Coen Bros. (Fargo), Dardennes (Rosetta), Haneke (Code Unknown), Hsiao-Hsien (Flight of the Red Balloon), Kar-wai (Happy Together), Kiarostami (Where is the Friend's Home?), Lynch (INLAND EMPIRE), Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs), Van Sant (Last Days), Von Trier (The Idiots)

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