Wathann winners highlights social issues
MEN lounge outside in the shade, discussing their plight as a rotted corpse sits casually beside them.
The scene, from the Move documentary film about a group of undertakers working to dig out an old cemetery, is a stark depiction of the plight facing many in the Thilawa industrial zone as they are forced to move out.
Recongised for its creative approach, the 16-minute-long documentary won top honours at the sixth annual Wathann Film Festival, which concluded yesterday after a five-day run at Waziya Cinema. Young director Khong Soe Moe Aung directed Move but was on a trip during the ceremony and could not receive the prize.
The festival showcased over 30 local and international films, including Best Short Film winner Period@Period, directed by Hnin Ei Hlaing. The female director tackled the often-controversial topic of women going through their menstrual cycle.
Hnin Ei Hlaing said she first had the idea to craft a film about women’s periods when she was 19 years old, but fear of the response made her hesitant. It wasn’t until the artist Ma Ei hosted her own Period installation – complete with performance art – that Hnin Ei Hlaing decided her film’s time had come.
“It forced me to create this Period@Period,” she said.
The judging panel of 10 men also awarded the Best Southeast Asia Documentary award to Myanmar director Ei Ei Lwin for her film Sugar & Spice.
The film offers a stunning portrait of the director’s parents, who make a living by generating palm sugar from the sap of toddy-palm trees in Myanmar’s upper dry zone. Ei Ei Lwin’s victory was particularly noteworthy, as she went up against nine competitive films from Myanmar and other countries around the region. Best Acting went to Mon Thi Khing from the film Book
Lover, while Best Cinematography went to Aung Ko Ko for his startlingly dark portrayal of a young mother’s struggles in Across the River Wind.
“It is difficult to discover new faces for short films, and even harder to teach them how to act,” said Keiko Sei, a spokesperson from the festival. “But unexpectedly, many of the short films that had the best acting featured ordinary people.”
A special mention award was also given to Shun Wint Aung for her abstract animation film Mother. The young director said she was totally shocked by the recognition.
“It’s an unexpected prize for my creation, and I’m really grateful to the jury, my friends and especially to my mother who allowed me to make this tribute.”
In total, the festival’s competition featured seven documentary films and eight short films for the local competition, as well as nine documentary films for the Southeast Asia regional competition.
The film festival was sponsored by the Goethe Institut.
Winners pose with their awards last night.
The festival was held this year at the old Waziya Cinema on Bogyoke Road.
More than 30 local and international films screened during the festival.
Hnin Ei Hlaing, who won for her short film Period@Period, addresses the audience.
A crew member who worked with Khon Soe Moe Aung on the winning documentary, Move, accepts the award on his behalf.