I've been a bad, bad blogger. For our first Burmese film screening night, I managed to be remiss in my coverage of both films.

I didn't get a single good still of Maung Okkar's "The Next Drop of Rain" - by the time I thought of bringing out my camera, the 10-minute short was rolling to an end, and all I got was this:
Pathetic, right? Okkar is part of FCP's Alter U. His film was originally meant to be a documentary about Down's Syndrome, but morphed into a short drama instead, awash in the drippy atmosphere of the rainy season.

As for the classic 133-minute feature "Wearing Velvet Slippers, Holding a Golden Umbrella" by the impresario Maung Wanna... well, it was really long and surreal, so of course I fell asleep. Twice.

I got good stills though!
It's basically about a psychiatrist, Ko Khin Tar, who falls in love with his beautiful patient Ma Htar Htar - a real nut case who has imaginary sisters, a real divorce (though was she the one who had the affair, or her husband?), some weird multiple personality stuff going on, and equal parts doll-like innocence, sultriness and hysteria.

Incidentally, my falling asleep didn't matter too much, because it was only after my second waking (three quarters in, I think) that the plot actually started to move forward. Basically, everything goes to hell. (You can read the detailed synopses of both movies at this link.)

Definitely some weird gender politics going on - Julie and I agreed that Htar Htar seemed the epitome of everything wrong with womanhood, and that there could have been so much more complexity going on in her back-story - but otherwise, the song sequences were great, and the cinematography was often kind of brilliant (Wen Hui was sitting with me, happily snapping stills) and oh! What images of old Yangon. The temples, the airport, Inya Lake.
But the story of the filming goes deeper than that. 1971 was already deep into the Ne Win dictatorship, and the filmmaker  Maung Wanna (a director-scriptwriter-dubbing guy all in one) was a 23 year-old intellectual. He was actually jailed from 1970 to 1971, while  - he was probably only released because his film won Myanmar's Academy Award for Best Director. This was his first film too!

The reason we know all this is because of his video artist daughter Wah Nu, who's part of Alter U. According to her, Maung Wanna made 20 films and wrote 20 novels and went to jail three times in his life (neither one of which is particularly prolific in Myanmar). She's only inherited five or six VHS titles, which she's digitised and tried to clean up, shaving off about three minutes of unsalvageable material, ruined by time and fungi.

She's shown another of her dad's films at the Wathann Film Festival: a more popular one about the colourful lives of dancers (though she initially objected to our use of the adjective, since it's also shot in black-and-white). This flick, however, is more psychologically interesting.

But is that the real reason why it's been curated for FCP? Look again.
Whaddaya know? The main actor's Ong Keng Sen! Always knew he was a Time Lord.
 





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