Anomaa: When I started as a filmmaker, I did abstract films. One of the criticisms I got especially from the censors was this whole issue of reality and fantasy. And I think that’s why I turned documentary filmmaker. I was using a very simple way of going ito reality, tyring to document people’s lives without interfering too much. More than a filmmaker, I was working as a documentarist.
While Anomaa's Yangon talk concentrated on her personal development as an artist, she's choosing to focus this time round on her actual documentary films. First, The Other Woman (2002), in which she ventures into the rebel-controlled north, spending a year and half tracing the memory of her Tamil neighbour, discovering the stories of blood and displacement the women have experienced.

Crucially, she speaks to women who've fought in the LTTE, trying to fathom how they as conservatively brought-up South Asian women, have decided to take up arms.
Women who've survived landmines, women weeping over their martyred daughters in the soon-to-be-bulldozed cemeteries. Anomaa's voice is quiet, calm but almost on the verge of breaking, maybe from sorrow, maybe from the Mandalay dust still killing our throats.

Her July: 25 Years photography exhibition, banned from public exhibition everywhere except in the Alliance Francaise, which included a woman who'd been displaced 17 times, and had lost seven sons...

And not only Tamil HIndus: in her Harmony Project she shows us the Muslim community, displaced into Mandar, even the children abused as refugees by the schoolteachers. And then her multiple-exposure prints, capturing the absurd beauty of the warzone sunsets, where only a single palmyrah tree remains after the bombing...
Q: How do you deal with your emotion?

Anomaa: It’s difficult. Actually I have spent all my life in this hurt. And now I have a so, who doesn’t even know what is normal. It’s scary.

But the only thing to do is to record. To work around it. To share with the others, that is important. The image here, in my July: Life after 25 exhibition, I have the story of a woman I showed you, the woman who list 7 sons in the war, and I have a story called His Story, about a Tamil writer who lost all his writings in the ’83 riots. So he said, “After that I couldn’t think of writing anything again. I don’t even touch a pen anymore, unless it’s to sign an official document or something.”

He ended up being a sculptor who sculpted both statues for Hindu and Sinhalese Buddhist temples. It was his way of dealing with the war, it was his healing process. We all deal with it. But still it’s a really scary place.
 


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