A Unique Journey With Apichatpong
From a world where only the sky and sea existed came the gods Tepeu and Gucumatz. Attired in green plumes, they resembled feathered serpents. From their will, the mountains, the trees and the animals that gave life and protected the jungle were all born. Later, after suffering with both the inconsistency of bodies made from clay and with the lack of ingenuity of ones made from wood, they created corn bodies. These corn bodies were transformed into flesh, blood, and muscle by the gods and they were placed on the Yucatán peninsula. These newly formed beings were the Maya.
From this Mesoamerican territory, mystical, and nourished by a magical and cloaked ancestry, comes Apichatpong’s dreamlike creation. That place, of hard limestone soil, of cenotes that water sculpted into the dirt with millenary patience giving vital liquid to the Mayas, becomes a meeting point and a channel between the past and desire, between what is seen and what is imagined.
Apichatpong paves the way in, once again, turning the Yucatán Peninsula into the cradle of creation of new narrative universes.
“Rather than technique, it is more important that the journey is really, really mindful. The idea is to listen to the world and yourself because you can get lost a lot with all different noises and media expressions”.
— Apichatpong W.
Unlearn and Reimangine Cinema Apichatpong Weerasethakul
To immerse oneself in the work of Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Bangkok, 1970) is to enter into different states of consciousness, to jump from reality to dream, to play between memory and its perception. His creations are a dance that blurs reality, that transforms it into evocation and reverie, leaving an ethereal trail that breaks with causality as a way of understanding time. As a result, it is the light that defines the outline of his pieces, that which illuminates and that which is left in the shadows.
Apichatpong brings together cinema and contemporary art to build an experimental and independent work that has already completed a trajectory of 20 years. During this time he has managed, through impeccable work, to impact critics and captivate an audience that today does not hesitate to recognize him as one of the most relevant figures of the world’s film scene. He has won the Academy’s highest award, the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, for Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives in 2010. He also won the Certain Regard for Blissfully Yours in 2002 and the Jury Prize for Tropical Malady in 2004, which he repeated in 2021 with his film Memoria, made in Colombia.
“As soon as we stop thinking about the results and start enjoying the process we will become stronger filmmakers.”
— Apichatpong W.
How Not to Make a Film
The experience we had with APICHATPONG in the Peruvian jungle in 2022 was magical. This magic was experienced in the midst of meditation every morning, in the sharing of meals and walks, in the horizontal dialogue and open thinking, and in the introspective, contemplative and experiential processes enjoyed by all. 50 filmmakers from different parts of the world walked the creative path together. They asked themselves questions, found their own rhythm and created works that are now touring the world at international festivals.
Playlab Films presents its next edition of CREATORS LAB in the new destination of Yucatán province, Mexico. This new destination ensures none of the experience becomes routine. It destabilizes comfort, refreshes the look and allows us to see what is next to us, inside us, or what is not seen. Over a twelve day period, 50 creative directors, of diverse nationalities and contexts, will create their productions under a fascinating methodology conceived by the master Abbas Kiarostami, adapted by Werner Herzog and now revisited by Apichatpong for the second consecutive time.
The idea of the workshop is to create a short film outside of those places we have always inhabited and to be inspired by all that is around us. To be inspired by the knowledge of the great Thai filmmaker; by the stories that emanate from this ancestral territory and that continue to come alive in the present; by the mysteries of that which was lost in time and that today must be imagined, and by the landscapes of a peninsula that, with its mysticism, will become food for curiosity, a source of observation and a center of co-creation.
It is the opportunity to create with the hands, the mind, and the soul. To unlearn and reimagine cinema. To ask ourselves why and how to make films, or even how and why not to make them.
During the workshop, filmmakers will explore all the phases that make up the development, production and post-production of a film. In the first days, the idea is to experience the location, then articulate the idea and shoot it to finally get to the editing and screening of the short film. It is a personal process, so each of the directors will need their own equipment (camera, sound, computer, etc.) to face all the processes and roles of their film. It is important to emphasize that in this workshop version it is not a requirement that everyone makes a film. APICHATPONG W. will provide the best possible support in whatever direction and decision the participants decide to embark on. The key to this year’s meeting is to ask ourselves, together, why we make films and if it is possible not to make films. Each of the phases will be guided, individually and in groups, by A. Weerasethakul, through one to one meetings, along with the knowledge that each of the participating filmmakers will bring.
The latter is essential, as the process ends up uniting the directors, forging a community that goes beyond this encounter, beyond the individual process, and beyond the shooting. It is a truely unique journey . Additionally, with this community comes the possibility of touring film circuits hand in hand. After post-production, Playlab Films chooses 10 of the works to accompany them in their distribution at international festivals and other exhibition windows. For example, this year the CANNES Film Festival will host an exclusive installation where the short film that Apichatpong has filmed in the same conditions as the directors will be presented along with the 14 selected short films. In previous years we have had several of these short films selected in official competitions at festivals such as BAFICI, Berlinale, Locarno, Havana, Cartagena de Indias, L’alternitva, among others.
This year we also have the support of the MOONLIGHT post-production house in Barcelona. They will be doing the complete color grading for the 10 selected short films.
After this initial distribution and in the spirit of continuing to work with the participating directors and further strengthening this community, the 50 filmmakers will be part of an exclusive and internal call to present their next film or series projects to Playlab Films who will select 2 of these for production. We want to reveal these new talents and accompany them throughout their film career.
“We go together, we move as one alone and in the editing room we will find something, for now have fun, play.”
— Apichatpong W.
“In your film location think what is the sound, what is the movement and the smell of this place.”
— Apichatpong W.
Yucatan: Where Spirituality Meets Creativity
The Yucataán Peninsula is a territory that divides the Gulf of Mexico from the Caribbean Sea at the southeastern tip of North America and the northern part of Central America. A place, as Apichatpong says, to open the senses, listen to the silence, feel the memory of an ancient civilization, walk through its ruins that allow us to imagine its legacy and embrace nature: life, death, beauty. And so, between the magic of the sunrises and sunsets, feel the rhythm of one’s own heartbeat with which the emptiness is filled.
To give further detail, the workshop will be based in Shambalanté, a place that draws on sacred geometry, ancestral techniques, and modern eco-technology to achieve harmony between the past and the present, resulting in a sanctuary of relaxation and healing. Nestled in the heart of a sacred land, immersed in the Yucatecan jungle, where the Maya left their powerful legacy. It is only an hour away from Mérida, the capital and most populated city of the Mexican state of Yucatán and is located in the magical town of Izamal From this place you can walk the Mayan trails through their legends, cosmovision, language, ceremonies, and herbalism, feeling the living voice of their heritage.
“There is a difference between what you experience and what you film, sometimes I feel uncomfortable filming in some situations.”
— Apichatpong W.
Open Call For Entries
August 2 to 11, 2023
10 days – Experiential learning
Place and lodging
Shambalanté, Yucatán, México
Lodging for 12 days (11 nights)
3 meals per day for 12 days
Call for Entries: May 5, 2023
Closing date: June 15, 2023
Publication of the list of selected candidates: July 1, 2023
Deadline for payment of registration fee: 10 July 2023
Workshop begins: August 2, 2023
Workshop ends: August 11, 2023
Tuition and Fees Include
- Individual and group counseling sessions with Apichatpong
- Transfer airport-hotel-airport
- Daily transportation during the lab
- Pre-production book created by Playlab Films with different shooting locations and permits + local casting with natural and professional actors.
- Group of guides and translators
- 10 short films will be selected to be distributed in International Festivals.
- Internal call for the 50 to present up to 2 future feature/series projects at Playlab Films ProductionLab.
- Complete color grading for the 10 selected short films given by the collaborating company MOONLIGHT
€ 5.600 eur.
* Once the fee has been paid there will be NO refund. If the selected director has not paid his/her registration fee by the deadline, his/her place will be automatically assigned to the next director on the waiting list.
Barbara Cunha Brasil
Zachary Yap Singapur
Brett Allen Smith USA
Gabriel Gonzalez A. México
Derek Howard USA
Hiona Henare Nueva Zelandia
— the production house
For more than a decade, Estephania Bonnett, film producer and creative mind behind PlayLab Films, has been exploring the different paths where creativity is expressed, embracing different initiatives. She started producing the famous practical workshops “Filmando con…” which have provided a creative space where authors from all over the world make a short film under the guidance of a master filmmaker. The first workshops were done by ABBAS KIAROSTAMI (2014,2015,2016), followed by WERNER HERZOG (2017, 2018) and now revisited by APICHATPONG WEERASETHAKUL (2022, 2023).
As a result of the workshops, more than 250 short films have been produced and distributed at various international festivals. Her drive to continue with those emerging creative minds has led her to produce several feature films that have won international awards and have been selected in the best international festivals.
The excellent results are reflected in more than 250 short films selected in international festivals (Berlinale, Locarno, Havana, Docs BA, and many others).
We have the support of several public institutions, ready to back their national talents in the event that they are selected
Swiss Film: supports a Swiss director with CH1,500
Colombian Film Development Fund: supports up to seven million nine hundred and ten thousand Colombian pesos ($7,910,000).
Polish Film Institute: supports a Polish director. The application is made through its website.
Hungarian Film Institute: opens the possibility of supporting a Hungarian director with some travel expenses.
NFVF The South African National Film and Video Foundation: opens the possibility of a collaboration for its national talents selected for the lab.
We would like to thank all the alliances and collaborations forged over the years with public and private companies. Alongside them we have consolidated this project to fulfill its objective of being a bridge between emerging directors and the industry.
Producer and Director of the LAB
Social Media Communication
Design, web and motion
Juan Felipe Mejía
Juan Pablo Conto