Chin film clears hur­dles to re­lease

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Weekend | Cinema - NYEIN EI EI HTWE

IT should have been a sweet vic­tory for Chin fil­maker Salai Peter BZL, who’s lat­est film, ‘Bridge no. 23’ has been approved for dis­tri­bu­tion by the Myan­mar Mo­tion Pic­ture Or­gan­i­sa­tion (MMPO) in Chin lan­guage with Ba­mar script sub­ti­tles, a first in the coun­try, but the go-ahead re­vealed a prob­lem: There is not a sin­gle film theatre in Chin State to show the piece.

‘Bridge no. 23’ is a docu-drama based on the real life sto­ries of eth­nic Chi­nese who faced hard­ship due to the low level of de­vel­op­ment in their state and the dif­fi­culty of ac­cess­ing ed­u­ca­tion. Trans­porta­tion is a big is­sue in the film, as it for ru­ral Chin peo­ple. The film high­lights the fact that Chin State re­mains the poor­est in the union, jux­ta­pos­ing the tra­di­tional way of life of Chin com­mu­ni­ties and cel­e­brat­ing the har­mony of the state’s peo­ples and its nat­u­ral beauty while draw­ing at­ten­tion to calls for re­form and de­vel­op­ment.

“We faced a lot of dif­fi­culty dur­ing shoot­ing; it took over three years to get ev­ery­thing. Fi­nally, the cen­sors approved our project in our lan­guage,” Salai Peter BZL said.

Film­ing mostly took place in Min­dat town in South­ern Chin State. The film uses the com­mon lan­guage of Min­dat and shows the cul­tures of tribes from the area. The first pre­sen­ta­tion was re­jected by the MMPO, which re­quested some changes to the plot and nar­ra­tion, but the direc­tor was will­ing to work with the or­gan­i­sa­tion to­wards re­sub­mis­sion, claim­ing that the ed­its did not in­ter­fere with the project goal.

“The story be­gins in 1989 with the birth of the pro­tag­o­nist, who goes on to face many prob­lems try­ing to study but ul­ti­mately he gains an ed­u­ca­tion and then be­comes a body builder, win­ning a na­tional com­pe­ti­tion.” The direc­tor said. He added that he and other mem­bers of the crew had to use their own money to reach pro­duc­tion tar­gets. They also faced is­sues with shoot­ing be­cause lo­cal Chin peo­ple who were ex­pected to act had no ex­pe­ri­ence with cam­eras.

“As a Chin woman, I’m very happy and I wel­come the first video in our lan­guage... Usu­ally, we find only short doc­u­men­taries about our cul­ture,” said Tedim lo­cal woman Mai Law Cin.

The film is ex­pected to be re­leased in Novem­ber but it re­mains un­clear how it might be dis­sem­i­nated and viewed in Chin State it­self. The project was in­tended both as a cel­e­bra­tion of film­mak­ing but also of Chin State and its peo­ple, ac­cord­ing to Salai Peter BZL.

“We want to bring ur­gent at­ten­tion to the lack of de­vel­op­ment. We also want to see more at­tempts at mak­ing Chin based films in the fu­ture.” He said.

Be­tween tra­di­tion and poverty.

Pho­tos: Sup­plied

Wel­come to Chin State.

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