Memoria | Screening at the Chelsea Theater, Chapel Hill | Friday, June 17–Thursday, June 23

Heads up, film nerds: the Chelsea Theater in Chapel Hill will be hosting a series of special screenings, June 17-24, of the new film Memoria, from award-winning Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

This turn of events is intriguing on several levels. Weerasethakul is a deeply admired filmmaker in world cinema circles, winner of the prestigious Cannes Palme d’Or prize, among others. Memoria is the first film he’s made outside Thailand and features an international cast led by the inimitable Tilda Swinton.

Then there’s the story itself: Swinton plays a Scottish ex-pat in Colombia who experiences a kind of perpetual auditory hallucination—a rolling explosion that seems to come from deep within the earth. Her obsessive investigation digs into Central American history, topographical anomalies, psychic trauma, and the collective unconscious. She also recruits help from a person who may not actually exist. Google the trailer for a sense of the deliciously eerie tone.

As an old-fashioned, in-the-theater moviegoing experience, Memoria offers another enticement: this may be the only chance we’ll get to see it. Memoria is being rolled out like a traveling art exhibition, playing in limited theaters across North America week to week. The Chelsea screenings are the final stop for North Carolina, and there are no plans to shuttle the film to online markets or streaming services.

It’s an oddly refreshing approach, pushing back against contemporary distribution models of making everything available everywhere, on all devices, always. Memoria has the feeling of an event, a destination. The exhibition strategy also chimes with the film’s overall vibe, which will be familiar to devotees of the literary microgenre known as weird fiction. The goal in weird fiction isn’t so much to present a narrative as to deliver an experience—a feeling, a mood, a glimpse of the numinous.

Which is all to say: a pretty good option for a night at the movies! Bonus tip: before each screening, the Chelsea will present a video introduction to the work of Weerasethakul by Duke film scholar Miguel Rojas Sotelo.

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