RYUICHI SAKAMOTO HOSTS ASYNC INTERNATIONAL SHORT FILM COMPETITION AND CALLS UPON APICHATPONG WEERASETHAKUL AS GUEST JUDGE
The intention for the competition stems from Sakamoto’s latest album, async, which is his 16th studio album and also his first release in eight years following the Japanese composer/ songwriter’s diagnosis with throat cancer. Through finding solace during his combat with illness, he revealed that the concept of async was written as an Andrei Tarkovsky’s imaginary soundtrack and expressed his desire to see how his music will be used in a film. It is no surprise then to find cinematic qualities within async. Listeners hear disintegrating tunes of dissonance and resonance, crunching leaves in Sakamoto’s field recordings whilst strolling in the woods, flows of elongated melodies akin to a slow moving train, and anonymous plucking and echoing sounds that seem to reflect the ambience of raindrops. The album is perhaps an attempt to pay homage to the mystical undercurrent of life’s mundanity.
Upon announcement, “First Light,” a short film by Weerasethakul was released to promote the upcoming competition that featured two songs from async, “Disintegration” and “Life, Life.” The scenes cut between contemplative shots of an outdoor cinema gathering, sceneries, and Weerasethakul’s reoccurring casts (Sakda Kaewbuadee, Banlop Lomnoi and Jenjira Pongpas) sleeping. Regarding the choosing of Weerasethakul as a guest judge, perhaps it is merely coincidence that the director was seen as one of Tarkovsky’s successors alongside today’s other great directors (Hungary’s Béla Tarr, or Russia’s Alexander Sokurov etc.). Or, conceivably, the slow cinema of Weerasethakul reflects the shared testament between Sakamoto and Tarkovsky’s struggle to find beauty and inner peace in this turbulent world.
Details regarding applications, prizes and how to submit films can be found on the official website of Ryuichi Sakamoto.
TEXT: VIRADA BANJURTRUNGKAJORN