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15th Five Flavours Asian Film Festival

Burma Today

Burma, which in the past decade has been undergoing the processes of democratization and development of the country, is still struggling with the aftermath of the military coup carried out by the junta in February 2021. The protests, initiated mostly by the youngest generation (inspired by similar actions of their peers in Hong Kong and Thailand), were brutally quenched by the army. This is a particularly difficult time in the recent history of the country which, for the past decade, has been going through a bumpy process of transformation.

It will be along time before the Burmese filmmakers will be able to once again tell freely stories about their country. The Five Flavours program includes a selection of fiction and documentary films made before the dramatic events of this winter, showcasing the complex local reality through the eyes of protagonists from big cities and small, provincial towns; through the eyes of women who spent their whole lives as partisans and the eyes of queer boys looking for a place for themselves in the traditional society.

Festival guest

"Money Has Four Legs" is a comedy drama about the world of cinema that shows the growth of the Burmese cinema in recent years. A young director is working on his first big production, but the odds are not in his favor. The struggles familiar to all aspiring artists gain an intriguing background of the urban landscape of contemporary Burma – the everyday life and the film set are contrasted in unexpected ways, combining realism with genre convention.

The director of the film, Maung Sun, will be the guest of the Festival. After cinema screenings f the film, he will talk about the production of the film and the contexts in which this unique title, which had its world premiere at the Pusan IFF, was made. Unfortunately, the "Money…" world tour is marked by a dark shadow – the producer and co-author of the script, Ma Aeint, was arrested in June, after the military coup. So far, her fate remains unknown.

Short films

The program also includes a set of shorts produced by the Yangon Film School which, since 2016, is headed by a Pole, Aleksandra Minkiewicz. Films by students and graduates of the School present different faces of contemporary Burma – encounters between tradition and modernity, economic challenges, urban landscapes and stories from the province. Films showing how the political turbulence is shaping the everyday lives of the Burmese, the voice of a generation facing radical limitation of their freedom of speech.

For over a decade, the Yangon Film School has been a space open to debates about the country's identity and its diverse society, made up of a number of ethnic groups which many of the students are members of. In documentary or semi-documentary forms, students and graduates of the school record stories from a changing reality – from the big cities and small local communities. Their productions are a priceless material in which previously unheard voices speak to the wide audiences at home and abroad.

Podcast

Don't miss a fascinating talk with Aleksandra Minkiewicz – in episode 28 of Azja Kręci she describes the system of film education and the conditions defining Burmese cinema. The podcast is presented in Polish.

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