Watching brief

Peter Calder at the New Zealand International Film Festival in Auckland

Thai'd down

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Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. Photo / Supplied
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. Photo / Supplied

Three of the films that were in competition at Cannes in May made it into the festival programme this year. As a bonus, at the last minute, the festival has secured the Palme d'Or winner, Uncle Boonmee, by director Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

It's the first time a Thai film has won Cannes premier prize - and it's certainly the first time the festival has screened a film after the festival's finished. Three screenings at the Rialto in Newmarket in a fortnight will ensure Aucklanders get a chance to see the film.

Described as "a mysterious, beautiful and playful evocation of reincarnation and the transmigration of spirits", the film - whose full title is Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives - follows its ailing title character through his final days. Together with his loved ones, including the ghost of his dead wife and his lost son who has returned in a non-human form, he explores his past lives as he contemplates the reasons for his illness.

The decision by the Cannes jury, headed by Tim Burton, to bestow the award on Uncle Boonmee, caused quite a stink at the time and has sharply divided critics: the festival announcement invites patrons to "leave all preconceptions in the foyer and drift into his enchanted world".

The film, which is highly unlikely to be seen here again, will have three screenings at the Rialto on Wednesday August 4. Bookings are through the cinema - not the festival office.

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