Apichatpong Weerasethakul to Receive 2018 FIAF Award (Exclusive)

Apichatpong Weerasethakul Getty H 2017
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The International Federation of Film Archives celebrates its 80th anniversary this year.

The 2018 FIAF (International Federation of Film Archives) Award will go to Apichatpong Weerasethakul on Nov. 19 at a special ceremony at the Thai Film Archive in Bangkok to honor the director's long advocacy of film preservation.

This is a landmark year for FIAF, the largest network of cinemas and film archives around the world, as it is also celebrating its 80th anniversary. Considered the world’s most important film archive, FIAF’s core mission is to preserve global works of film, a mission that has grown stronger in recent years as innovations in digital and streaming have radically transformed the film industry. 

"Film is an extension of us. I have always appreciated FIAF's dedication to preserve this part of our spirits," said Weerasethakul. "So I feel truly honored with this award. Far ahead the new generation will produce an entirely new kind of cinema, if it is still called that."

He continued: "It will show how they think, love, fear or simply move. But they will know how we move, the same way we know how our forebears move, and laugh, thanks to the existence of FIAF. I am happy to join this ship with such an important mission."

Weerasethakul has been a vocal supporter of Thai film archiving and preservation, working closely with the Thai Film Archive since 1996, when he was still a film student. He supported a campaign for the archive to become a public organization in 2001, which led to its growth as a leading film heritage institution. He served on the organization’s first administrative board from 2010 to 2014. Additionally, he has also been outspoken for the need for film preservation of South Asian films as a whole, working with FIAF affiliates around the world.

"As we mark our 80th anniversary in times of radical change, with digital technologies leading to a true paradigm shift in film archives' activity, FIAF's core mission appears more important now than ever. We are honored and delighted to present the 2018 FIAF award to Apichatpong Weerasethakul, a director who embodies true commitment to the art of film and engagement in its preservation,” said FIAF president Frederic Maire, currently director of the Cinematheque Suisse and former head of Locarno Film Festival.

“As a filmmaker whose work engages deeply with the past and the importance of human memory, while also tracing its own distinctive, original artistic path through the film medium, Apichatpong embodies all of the values the FIAF award represents in this milestone year,” said Maire.

Weerasethakul was the first Southeast Asian filmmaker to win the Cannes Palme d’Or, with his 2010 film Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. Other works include Cannes Jury Prize winner Tropical Malady (2004), Cemetery of Splendour (2015) and Syndromes of a Century (2016). He is currently developing his first feature to be made outside of Thailand, Memoria, which will shoot next year in Colombia, with an aim to premiere in 2020.

Martin Scorsese was the first FIAF award honoree in 2001. Other recipients include Ingmar Bergman (2003), Mike Leigh (2005), Hou Hsiao-hsien (2006), Peter Bogdanovich (2007), Agnes Varda (2013), and Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne (2016). Last year Christopher Nolan was presented with the award at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Los Angeles.

FIAF was founded in 1938 with four members: the British Film Institute in London, the Cinematheque Francaise in Paris, MoMA in New York and the Reichsfilmarchiv in Berlin. Today it is an official UNESCO partner, consisting of 166 institutions in 75 countries, working to create collaborations between prominent cinemas and advance film heritage worldwide. In addition to education and training, FIAF’s main goals include rescuing, collecting, preserving, screening and promoting global film as a cultural art form of historical significance.