ABOVE: ARCHIPELAGO CINEMA BY OLE SCHEEREN (C) STUDIO-OS; PHOTO BY PIYATA HEMMATAT.
The danger of putting certain fantasies into practice is that they usually fail to live up to expectations. But, we promise, this aerial shot (above) of a floating movie-theater oasis set off the island of Yao Noi in the Andaman Sea is not the work magical thinking or Photoshop. In fact it was the grand finale of a brand-new Thai film festival called Film on the Rocks Yao Noi, which brought artists, actors, designers, writers, and observers by the boatload to the Six Senses Yao Noi Resort for four days of outdoor film screenings, improvisatory art installations and collaborations, insanely scenic dinners, and a few informal talks on whether these very fortunate guests were invaders or island refugees.
Film on the Rocks Yao Noi is the brainchild of its principal organizer, Six Senses Yao Noi owner Nat Sarasas and Chomwan Weeraworawit, who tapped a rather eclectic East-meets-West co-curatorial team in actress Tilda Swinton and Thai artist and filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul. And while the various screens during the four days took center stage—particularly the memorable short films selected by Swinton, which included Margaret Tait’s Portrait of GA and Charles and Ray Eames’ iconic Powers of Ten—island activity was not limited to celluloid.
Among the highlights was a interactive co-performance inspired by Andy Warhol’s film Empire that was carried out in a patch of jungle by artist Rirkrit Tiravanija and musician Arto Lindsay, a batik dying lesson by designer Waris Ahluwalia, and a 101 workshop hosted by New York artist Tom Sachs, where he not only lectured on the important of a “things to do” list but played his cultish studio films on his favorite colors and the rules of being a good studio assistant.
The floating screening room, Archipelago Cinema, designed by architect Ole Scheeren really ensured that Film on the Rocks existed on practically a different planet than any other film festival ever to set up seats and run a projector on Earth. The last film of the festival was the 1924 original Peter Pan played to a live soundtrack by composer Simon Fisher Turner. With the screen set in front of the limestone protrusions of the Andaman, no one felt much like growing up or going home.