As much of the world anxiously awaits their chance to lay their eyes upon the director’s latest effort, Mekong Hotel, a new short film from director Apichatpong Weerasethakul has arrived, and it’s quite a wonder.
Best known for works like the masterful Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives and the even better Syndromes And A Century, the short is entitled Cactus River, and thanks to Mubi (with a nod to The Playlist) we can all watch it in all of its glory.
Shot in black and white, the film appears to be a passion piece for the filmmaker, something that has become synonymous with much of his work. It’s a small picture, clocking in at just roughly 10 minutes, but it’s a really interesting little mood piece from one of the film world’s most exciting auteurs. Here’s the film’s synopsis:
In describing Cactus River, Weerasethkul tells the story of how actress Jenjira Pongpas changed her name to Nach, which means water. She has acted in his films since 2009, including Syndromes and a Century and Uncle Boonmee, both of which screened at the Walker in 2011. Convinced that her new name will bring good luck, Nach soon meets and marries Frank, a retired soldier from the small US town of Cuba, New Mexico. Cactus River opens with a scene of Nach and her husband in their new home on the Mekong River as they go about their daily life. She is cooking or knitting baby socks for sale while he gardens and watches a Thai television program with the sound turned off. We see the wind off the nearby river and the flowing of two waters, Nach and Mekong.
Cactus River is Weerasethakul’s diary of his visit with the couple. He explains, ‘The flow of the two rivers ‘” Nach and the Mekong ‘” activates my memories of the place where I shot several films. Over many years, this woman whose name was once Jenjira has introduced me to this river, her life, its history, and to her belief about its imminent future. She is certain that soon there will be no water in the river due to the upstream constructions of dams in China and Laos. I noticed, too, that Jenjira was no more.’“