A Letter to Uncle Boonmee - A Letter to Uncle Boonmee

Original title A Letter to Uncle Boonmee
Country of production Thailand
original language Thai
Publishing year 2009
Long 18 minutes
Director Apichatpong Weerasethakul
script Apichatpong Weerasethakul
production Simon Field,
Keith Griffiths
Camera Sayombhu mukdeeprom
cut Lee Chatametikool ,
Apichatpong Weerasethakul

A Letter to Uncle Boonmee (Thai: จดหมาย ถึง ลุง บุญ มี ; German A letter to Uncle Boonmee ) is a Thai short film by Apichatpong Weerasethakul from 2009 . In Germany, the film premiered on May 5, 2009 at the International Short Film Festival in Oberhausen .


The film is an autobiographical - fictional personal letter from Weerasethakul to the deceased Uncle Boonmee (read by a local), in which he describes his village of Nabua to him. It begins as the making-of of a project that was never realized. The director discusses the script with his actors off- screen. Several lines are repeated. The camera shows the inside of a house, the surroundings and finally gets lost in the darkness of the jungle. Another scene shows a group of young soldiers (or actors in uniform) lounging around.

History of origin

The film was made as part of the "Primitive Project" in the Thai village of Nabua. According to local residents, political cleansing against suspected communists took place there in 1965 . Soldiers are said to have raped and murdered residents. The surviving male villagers fled to the mountain regions. The following male generation grew up without fathers. [1]

Apichatpong Weerasethakul was inspired by the book "A Man Who Can Recall His Past Lives" (1983) by Phra Sripariyattiweti. The abbot of a monastery had lived in a nearby temple with a man named Boonmee who claimed he could see his past lives go by in deep meditation. [2] Apichatpong Weerasethakul was inspired to write a script, traveled to the region and found Boonmee's two sons. In December 2008, the director visited Nabua, selected houses for filming and wrote a personal letter to Boonmee, who had passed away a few years ago. [3]

The film consists of evening shots of empty houses, with the exception of one where a group of young soldiers are staying. These are played by young people from the village. Two of these were also chosen as narrators for the film. [3]


“For creating a cinematic idiom that transcends conventional documentary realism or its depiction. For the development of a temporality that is calm and thoughtful, but deeply disturbing in the way that the re-imagination of the village of Nabua refers to the brutalities of the army and war. "

- Jury of the international competition 2009 : kurzfilmtage.de [4]

“The jury of the Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia awards a film that poses as a failed project in order to masterfully open up ever new visual and intellectual spaces. The film spans a biographical story through a reflection of cinematic narration to the representation of political and historical connections. Apichatpong Weerasethakul's film 'A Letter to Uncle Boonmee' is convincing as a cleverly conceived and at the same time sensual work. "

- Jury of the Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia 2009 : kurzfilmtage.de [5]

Dietmar Kammerer ( the daily newspaper ) remarked that the camera is “constantly looking for the open, the view into the vastness of the sky”. [6] The figure of Boonmee becomes “the embodiment of transformation and memory of the brutal communist hunt from 1960 to 1980”, according to Gabrielle Schultz ( Die Welt ). [7] In September 2009, the short film was in the Toronto International Film Festival shown. Mathew Kumar ( Torontoist ) remarked that the film would be "compelling but completely enigmatic". "Ominous but also obscure, it (the film) sticks with us even if we don't understand it." [8] The critic Manohla Dargis ( The New York Times) pointed out that Apichatpong Weerasethakul makes "memory and uncertainty" visible. [9]


International Short Film Festival Oberhausen 2009

motion pictures

In 2010, the award-winning feature film Uncle Boonmee Remembers His Past Lives , which was also inspired by the character of Uncle Boonmee.

Individual evidence

  1. vgl. Tsui, Clarence: Open letters. In: South China Morning Post, 7. Februar 2010, S. 9
  2. cf. Press booklet for the film at festival-cannes.fr (PDF file, 6.98 MB; accessed on May 22, 2010)
  3. a b cf. Portrait ( Memento of the original from June 5, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. at kickthemachine.com (English; accessed May 27, 2010)@1@2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.kickthemachine.com
  4. "Grand Prize of the City of Oberhausen, endowed with EUR 7,500"
  5. "Prize of the Jury of the Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, endowed with EUR 5,000"
  6. cf. Kammerer, Dietmar: In the open air . In: the daily newspaper, May 7, 2009, p. 17
  7. cf. Schultz, Gabrielle: Out of breath . In: Die Welt, May 8, 2009, No. 106/2009, p. 24
  8. cf. Kumar, Mathew: TIFF 2009: Catastrophe In Comparison . In: Torontoist, September 13, 2009, 11:00 AM EST (accessed via LexisNexis Business )
  9. vgl. Dargis, Manohla: Revisiting a Cinematic Smackdown, and Other Avant-Garde Pleasures. In: The New York Times, 2. Oktober 2009, Section C, S. 8