MEKONG HOTEL (แม่โขงโฮเต็ล)

Year: 2012
Length: 56.13 minutes
Format: Digital (HD)
Ratio: 16:9
Sound: Dolby
Dialog: Thai
Production countries: Thailand/ UK/ France

Jenjira Pongpas
Maiyatan Techaparn
Sakda Kaewbuadee
Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Chai Bhatana
Chatchai Suban

1st Assistant Director
Chatchai Suban
Chalermrat Kaweewattana

Chai Bhatana

Sound Designer  
Akritcharlerm Kalayanamitr

Color Correction
Marc Ripper
at Jacob Burns Film Center, New York

Shot, Edited, Directed and Produced by
Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Executive produced by
Luciano Rigolini
Simon Field and Keith Griffiths/ Illuminations Films
Post production support provided, in part, by Jacob Burns Film Center's
International Filmmaker in Residence Program

In association with Arte France

MEKONG HOTEL premiered at the 65th Cannes Film Festival, Official Selection's Special Screenings. 16-27 May 2012
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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. 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.

Filmmaker’s Statement

The monsoon season was about to end. The sky was overcast, making the city, the river, the bridge and the boats look sad. The abundance of ozone triggered our melancholia, producing the right mood for our filming. I had been in Nong Khai several times now to document Ms. Jenjira, her house and the Mekong river. Jenjira is my actress. She had a motorcycle accident years ago, a mishap that crippled one of her legs. She has been in and out of hospitals. Now and then, her daughter from Bangkok, Namphon, paid her a visit. The sight of the two women together reminded me of a story I had written in 2002 called Ecstasy Garden. It was about a series of reincarnations of a mother and daughter, about their attachment to one another.

In the story, the daughter was in love with a teenage man whose family owned a banana plantation. She did not realise that her mother was a ghost. This ghost was like a vampire: it ate raw human and animal flesh. When the daughter discovered the truth, it was too late. Her mother killed her at the height of the romance. The daughter’s spirit then followed her love wherever he went, across multiple lives and countries. But the further away the daughter was from her mother, the stronger the bond between their spirits became.

In a week weighed down with nostalgia, grilled chicken and sticky rice, I filmed Jenjira and Namphon at the hotel by the Mekong. This hotel was one of the many that I had stayed in during my visits. Its terrace was always flooded with the sort of evening light that induces a feeling of homesickness. The two women were joined by Tong, my actor and Koon, my long lost high school friend whom I’d recently re-met. I found out he was teaching classical guitar and occasionally performed at a bar. We had a lot to catch up on. The twilight drove everyone to conjure up their own memories. Together we created an instinctive version of Ecstasy Garden, under the watchful eyes of the conspiring hotel.

Apichatpong Weerasethakul