An ultra-luxurious private island resort in Thailand’s resort district is sponsoring a new film festival that incorporates a unique floating movie theatre, designed by a famous German architect.
The main problem with Thailand’s innovative new movie theatre, which floats in the Andaman Sea off the coast of Yao Noi Island, is that with such gorgeous surroundings, who will pay attention to the screen? Out of the vibrant turquoise ocean rise some of Asia’s most spectacular land formations: sky-scraping towers composed of limestone karst rise out of the waters like stone cathedrals, a surreal compliment to the shallow, sparkling seas and jungle-covered islands. What cinematic fiction, however beautiful, could compete with that?
The organizers of the floating festival, which include the owners of the elite private island resort Six Senses Yao Noi, certainly had to try hard to capture the attention of their audience, but their intention, according to the festival’s website, was to integrate the experience with the environment. The theme of the inaugural festival, which ran from March 9th to 13th, was “Primordial”, elaborated upon as “arriving to a place of origin where roosts and nature are embraced.”
The theatre, dubbed the “Archipelago Cinema”, is composed of two parts; a stabilized screen at the foot of two rocky limestone mountains, and a separate platform, built using rafts borrowed from local lobster fisherman and given buoyancy with rubber tires, atop which comfy seats await festival viewers.
The creative design was the brainchild of renowned German-born architect Ole Scheeren, who is based out of Beijing, a hotbed of boundary-pushing architectural work. The dashing young designer was a former partner of Rem Koolhaas’ famed Office for Metropolitan Architecture, and has been responsible for several new landmark buildings in China and Singapore.
Of his creation, Sheeren said that he was inspired by the natural enclosure made by the limestone formations and curved coastline of Yao Noi Island;
“The thought of watching films here seemed surprising: A screen, nestled somewhere between the rocks. And the audience… floating. Hovering above the sea, somewhere in the middle of this incredible space of the lagoon, focused on the moving images across the water. A landscape of pieces playfully joined together. A sense of temporality, randomness. Almost like drift wood. Or maybe something more architectural. Modular pieces, loosely assembled, like a group of little islands. A congregation of rafts as an auditorium. Archipelago Cinema.”
His installation was not to last, though, as after the film festival, it was dismantled and the materials – rafts, tires, and fishing nets – were returned to the locals from whence they came. The organization behind the festival, the Film on the Rocks Yao Noi Foundation, may repeat the event next year, however.
Chaired by Nat Sarasas and Chomwan Weeraworawit, partners in Six Senses Yao Noi Resort, and independent film director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, the festival can also boast of having the luminous Tilda Swinton as a curator. It will be interesting to see what will be in the works for the festival next year – a stunning floating theatre will be hard to top, but the creative power behind the Foundation will no doubt have surprises in store.
Visit the webpage for the Archipelago Cinema: Buro Ole Scheeren
Learn more about Film on the Rocks Yao Noi: link