Since San got banned, we actually got a break between APK and the filmfest, which the tech guys spent doing setup. A much-needed pause for my concentration, and a period for a few more audience members to trickle in from outside. We slumped ourselves on the beanbags and let the Festival Directors do the talking.
Thu Thu: We always have a problem to shoot in the country. Whenever we shoot in the street or someone’s house, we need the permission to shoot.

Thaiddhi: When we speak of documentary and truth, the government is quite worried.

Thu Thu: When the government opened the film school in 2007, we  immediately joined the school so we could get the student card, so we could shoot in the street. So that is how we sustained ourselves.

Thaiddhi: But since Burma VJ came out, the government is looking for anyone with a camera. Everybody with a camera is a danger to them.
And even after the films were shot, there was the problem of getting them past the censors. Much too hairy a process, everyone thought, so they passed their films from friend to friend through underground networks, only getting glory at international film festivals.

Not an ideal situation. They decided to go for broke in 2011 and hold the first Wathann Film Festival in a Buddhist centre. Fortunately, the censors were pretty confused and didn't take action - after applying two months in advance as instructed, the organisers only got their approval letter an hour before their closing ceremony! Ah well, legal is legal.

No problems this year, 'cos the censorship board's been dissolved. Audiences grew from 500 to 4,000. (You see, Singapore? So much could happen if you only got rid of our censors!)

The actual lineup of movies overlapped almost completely with what we saw in Mandalay: stuff I reviewed here, here and here. The first and the last films were different, though, so I couldn't rush home and finally get my beauty rest.
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Social Game, dir Seng Mai
Yeah. As I said, I was tired, and I was cranky, and I couldn't see the flippin' point of this movie. It's filmed among in a Kachin minority settlement, which is cool, but the content makes very little sense. Two threads intercutting one another: Q&As with a class of schoolchildren, where they answer, "What is the most important thing for your country?" They give the  textbook answers: money, education, politics, health, each of which open up a new section of the film. Unfortunately the action is utterly prosaic and bears very little relation to the supposed headers. Ten minutes of my life I'll never get back.

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Nargis - where time stopped breathing, dir The Maw Naing and Pe Maung San
Now, this documentary deserves a post of its own...

 


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