The clouds descend onto a village and engulf it for a day. They touch the roof tiles, the beds, the chairs, the carpets, the grass, and the bodies, infecting everything with the fever of white stupor. Vapour takes place at Toongha village in Mae Ram district that has been Apichatpong’s home for the past eight years. The village is one of several areas in the country that are plagued with land management issues. For the past sixty years, it has been a battleground between the people and the state.
The mountains possess an undeniable allure. Although the fence of my house is next to the barracks and we constantly hear the shooting practice for the invisible war, the beauty around the mountains; the lotuses, the hens, the cows, and the bamboo groves, makes it impossible to leave this place.
Toongha village in Mae Ram district has been my home for the past eight years. I’ve learned that in its tranquility lay a hidden rage. The village is one of several areas in the country that are plagued with land management issues. It is a battleground between the people and the state. For the past sixty years, the villagers have petitioned for the ownership of the land in which their families had settled for generations. Years ago, barbed fences were erected to resist the army’s threatening evictions. During the heated confrontations, dozens of soldiers’ houses in the area were burned down. The flame rages on in the memory. Now it remains a quiet inferno.
Vapour is a collaboration between the people who live here, the architectures, the animals, the young filmmakers of Chiang Mai, and I. We together make a film that is a cross between a murder mystery and a romance, or it could be a peculiar poem of the rainy season.
June is the time when the village is attacked by a swarm of mosquitoes rising from the swamps. The authority has a mosquito spray service all year round. The staff carrying a portable machine roams the village and engulfs it with the white clouds of insecticide. Not only does it kill the mosquitoes, ants and other insects, the fog creates a vista of heaven relocated onto earth. The clouds touch the roof tiles, the beds, the chairs, the carpets, the grass, and our bodies, as if everything is submerged in a world of dreams. Or is it a world of cheap horror movies?_ Apichatpong Weerasethakul (2015)
Apichatpong Weerasethakul was born in 1970 in Bangkok, Thailand. He graduated as an architect at Khon Kaen University, and as visual artist at the Art Institute of Chicago. Recurring themes in his films include religion and mysticism, nature and human sexuality, as well as the reality of different peoples in Southeast Asia. One of the most original and award-winning contemporary directors, Apichatpong won the Palme d’Or at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival for the film Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. His next film, Memoria, is due to be released in 2021.