Yangon Film School: Short Documentaries
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About the event
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. Yangon Film School since 2016 is headed by a Pole, Aleksandra Minkiewicz.
Mother at Arms
Burma 2018, 22'
Director: Nu Nu Hlaing
Cinematography: Ko Oo, Mya Darli Aung, Wynn Htut
Editor: Zin Mar Oo
Mi Sue Pwint is a member of the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front, the student army formed after nationwide protests were brutally crushed by Myanmar’s military dictatorship in 1988. This film tells her extraordinary story as both a leading revolutionary and mother and describes how she is now actively engaged in the peace process in her deeply conflicted country.
Nu Nu Hlaing
She comes from a village in Bogalay in Myanmar’s Ayeyarwaddy delta. Following the devastating cyclone Nargis that swept through the delta in 2008 she came to Yangon where she attended courses in journalism run by capacity building organisation Myanmar Egress and later worked for the Myanmar Peace Centre. Since joining Yangon Film School in 2012 she has worked on numerous documentaries as a sound recordist. Mother At Arms, which won the top Diamond Award at the 2017 Goethe Institut Myanmar Documentary Awards, marks her first film as a director in her own right.
Sugar & Spice
Burma 2016, 16'
Director and Editor: Mi Mi Lwin
Cinematography: Arrow Luck
A lovingly filmed portrait of the filmmaker’s parents who eke out a living making ‘jaggery’ sweets from toddy palm syrup in Myanmar’s central dry zone.
Mi Mi Lwin
She comes from Nyaung Oo Township in Mandalay Division in Myanmar’s central dry zone. Her parents are toddy palm farmers. After graduating from Yezin Agricultural University she came to Yangon where she took up an internship at independent non-profit organisation Enlightened Myanmar Research (EMR). Since being accepted to Yangon Film School in 2014 she has worked on a number of films in various capacities, providing for example the soundtrack for The Bus Conductor. For her second year project Sugar & Spice she chose to portray the lives of her own hard-working parents- The resulting film, of which she was also editor, was joint recipient (with Slate) of the Ruby Award during the 2015 Goethe-Institute Documentary Awards.
Seeds of Sadness
Burma 2018, 17'
Director, Cinematographer, Editor: Thae Zar Chi Khaing
In spite of a nationwide ceasefire, armed conflict still persists in Myanmar and landmines contaminate many parts of the country. Describing their effect on one family in East Bago, this film gives a dignified voice to the victims of Myanmar’s civil war and makes a powerful plea for peace.
Thae Zar Chi Khaing
She comes from Sittwe in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. After graduating in geology she began working as a video journalist. Since enrolling at Yangon Film School in 2016, she has worked on a number of projects as director, editor or cinematographer (e.g. Tofu Nights). In 2017 she joined a YFS Travelling Cinema crew to Inle Lake to help a local community create two short films about environmental pollution. Seeds of Sadness, which she shot, directed and edited in her second year at YFS, was joint-winner of the 2017 Goethe Institut Ruby Documentary Award. She is currently working with fellow-student Cherry Thein on a feature-length documentary Cocoons about young girls living on the streets of Mandalay.
Burma 2021, 19'
Director: Sai Nyi Min Htut
Cinematography: Kaung Swan Thar
Editors: Nang Cho Lae Yee Thein, Sai Nyi Min Htut
To his mother, Agyip is a 19-year-old who works as a hotel receptionist. What she doesn’t know is that by night her son has another persona and another life – as ‘Violet Katy’. In conservative Myanmar, drag is something of a nascent art and often frowned upon, but Agyip and his friend Myint Kant Zin are determined to don their make-up and costumes, strut their stuff and live the lives they want – in spite of family pressure.
Sai Nyi Min Htut
He is from Kyaukme in Myanmar’s northern Shan State. After gaining a degree in English from Lashio University, he spent several years working as an activist and writing about LGBTI and other human rights issues before joining YFS in 2020. He has completed a number of YFS courses and worked on several projects and has now entered his second year at the school. Boy Queen – which he also co-edited with fellow YFS student Nang Cho Lae Yee Thein – marks his directorial debut.
Burma 2016, 26'
Director & Editor: Sai Naw Kham
Cinematography: Nay Lynn Htun
An old woman from Mong Htet in northern Shan State in Myanmar looks back on a life marked by privation and loss. Her memories are interwoven with images that touch on this conflicted state’s past, present and future.
Sai Naw Kham
He grew up in Tangyan Township in Myanmar’s northern Shan State. Moving to Yangon in 2007, he first studied chemistry and worked for three years as an editor for Charr Music Production. His first brush with filmmaking came when he filmed his uncle’s donation to a Palaung village; the Palaung continue to fascinate him and he hopes to one day make a feature-length film with them. Since joining YFS in 2014 he has directed a documentary, The Crocodile Creek. In 2015 he photographed a short YFS drama, Book Lover. In 2020 he co-directed omnibus film "Mekong 2030" with four other directors from South-East Asia.