Thailand will never cease to surprise its ever-escalating crowd of tourists. Imagine sitting in the middle of an island lagoon in Southern Thailand, lazing about, crunching on a handful of popcorn and watching a tasteful line up of films curated by the likes of Tilda Swinton and award winning Thai filmmaker, Apichatpong Weerasethakul. That’s exactly what the guests attending the Film on the Rocks Yao Noi Festival in the Phuket province got to do! The Archipelago Cinema, as it is familiarly known, is a makeshift floating theatre, which is clearly the first of its kind. The design, conceptualized by German architect Ole Scheeren exclusively for the Film on the Rocks Yao Noi Festival, was lifted from the indigenous raft designs of Thai fishermen who use the rafts to fish out lobsters. Offering a unique cinematic experience, this buoyant amphitheatre of sorts, is strategically placed between two island rocks, where the screen faces an island-auditorium deck.
A concept that resulted out of Apichatpong’s childhood dream of screening a feast of films on well, rocks, the Film on the Rocks Yao Noi Festival which launched this March took place over a period of four days, screening both Thai and international productions. The idea of a theatre afloat synced well with the festival’s first edition theme – Primordial (‘Arriving to a place of origin where roots and nature are embraced,’ as the official website states). Equipped with comfy beanbag seats, the Archipelago Cinema welcomed on board more than 60 guests.
Although the festival has now ended and shall return only next March, for now the Archipelago has been donated to the locals who can use it to stage community events. And when it’s time for the festival to showcase another line-up of interesting cinema, the Archipelago shall be ‘borrowed’ once again.
If you wish to learn more about the festival and be a part of it next year, click here to visit their website._