Memoria took in $6,797 on one screen Sunday, the first day of the first week exclusive engagement for the Neon film starring Tilda Swinton. It will play the IFC Center in NYC through Sat. Jan 1.
That’s the start of a cross country tour in an unusual release strategy the distributor and the film’s director Apichatpong Weerasethakul announced in October for the Cannes Jury Prize winner and New York Film Festival selection. It is also the Colombian entry for the Best International Feature Film.
Swinton plays Jessica, a woman who travels from Scotland to Bogotá to visit her sister. There, she’s startled by a loud bang at daybreak and is unable to sleep. It is Palme d’Or winner Weerasethakul’s ninth feature and his first shoot outside his native Thailand.
Neon is following the unusual approach of moving the film “from city to city, theater to theater, week by week, playing in front of only one solitary audience at any given time.” And it will only be available in cinemas, with no home video, on-demand, or streaming release. “The only means of experiencing Memoria will be in theaters… forever,” Neon tweeted when it made the announcement.
The move, with the full support and encouragement of the film’s director and star, is meant as a paean to the uniqueness of the theatrical experience, which is challenged for independent and arthouse films right now and has distributors experimenting with various release models. The move also generated some controversy on social media with cries of elitism.
Neon says that following the one-week residency at IFC, all other markets will be in 2022, but it is not yet making the specifics public.
Memoria is inspired by Weerasethakul’s own memories. As Jessica seeks to unravel the mystery of the sound, she befriends Agnes (Jeanne Balibar), an archaeologist studying human remains in a tunnel under construction, and a fish scaler, Hernan (Elkin Diaz). The Hamden Journal review.