&PROUD fundraiser tonight at Pansuriya
THOUGH rain marred the days leading up to the event, the day of the Mahar Arnthtoo Kanthar Pagoda’s 12th annual Tazaungdaing festival dawned bright and clear in Pyin Oo Lwin: perfect balloon weather.
Though nearby Taunggyi’s festival is by far the most famous fire balloon festival in the land, Pyin Oo Lwin’s growing event was a wild celebration all it’s own.
From November 11 through yesterday, landbound mortals stood in awe to watch the aerial flights of fancy far aloft, by day and night. Even spectators were at risk: 10 people were hurt when one flying machine descended in flames.
The Tazaungdaing hot-air balloon competition brought local residents, government organisations, private high schools, hoteliers, damson and sunflower growers, sweater shops and private companies together, not forgetting competitors from as far afield as Mandalay, Monywa, Myitkyina, Muse, Ayeyarwady and Yangon.
To mark the November 11 opening ceremony, 1000 mini hot-air balloons and a sein na pan balloon were released, with musical entertainment and dance performances by local schoolchildren. On the first day of the competition, three sein na pan and two nya mee gyi hot-air balloons were sent up.
November 12’s daytime competition featured 22 decorated balloons. After nightfall, four sein na pan and two nya mee gyi craft competed. The next day, 24 decorated balloons battled through the day, followed by six sein na pan mee gyi balloons after dark.
On November 14, the full moon day itself, 27 beautiful hot air balloons lofted into the sky, and six sein na pan and four nya mee gyi lit up the night sky. One nya mee gyi over Htone Bo village crashed to the ground from 200 feet, injuring the aforementioned 10 onlookers.
And yesterday the festival wound to a close, with 24 beautiful hot air balloons gracing the sky. In all, 132 balloons took part, including 24 beautified balloons, 23 sein na pan and 12 nya mee gyi.
The festival also included a Ma Tho Thingan (weaving competition for special yellow monks’ robes) for Maha Ant Htoo Kan Thar Pagoda, the donation of 9000 oil lamps, drone duels and flower shows, games and other entertainment.
– Translation by Khine Thazin Han and three nya GOT glitter?
If not, have no fear – the folks behind &PROUD are hosting a special screening tonight at 8pm in Pansuriya to raise money for the organisation’s third annual LGBT film festival.
Showing the 2011 international queer hit film WEEKEND, organiser Jeewee Van Rooij said tonight’s event is an opportunity to showcase films that don’t fit into their typical festival programming.
“During our film festival however we focus on Asian films, so we don’t have any space in the film schedule for any international feature films,” he said.
“That’s one of the reasons why we’re planning some fundraiser screenings in the run-up to the festival, because it’ll allow us to screen some films that we can’t show during the festival.”
WEEKEND is one such film, having garnered awards from the Toronto Inside Out LGBT Film Festival, the Nashville Film Festival, South by Southwest and the London Film Critics’ Circle Awards.
The story follows one weekend in the life of two gay men, delving into issues such as coming out, heteronormativity and identity.
Also on the agenda is a selection of short films from &PROUD’s Rainbow Reels program, which trains local LGBT filmmakers by helping them produce shorts on the community.
The program started its third iteration this past week, working with six young artists to produce two new films.
Tonight, van Rooij plans to show Soulmates, an “all-time favourite” Rainbow Reel that shows the relationship of two women living family life in rural Myanmar.
“[These shorts] have all premiered at &PROUD and have gone on to be quite successful at film festivals all over the world.
So our screening tonight would not be complete without some Rainbow Reels shorts – many will not have had the chance to view them.”
Tickets to the showing start at K10,000, with a buffet deal for K25,000 that includes dinner and the movie.
For “Very Glittery Persons”, a special package offering front-row comfy seats, the buffet and a cocktail is available for K45,000.
The money will go toward &PROUD’s film festival operating costs, including community group performances and equipment rentals. Naturally, there’s glitter to be bought as well.
“We won’t be spreading much glitter just yet,” van Rooij said.
“But we promise that a good part of the money we’ll raise will make sure that the film festival will be another glitter bomb exploding from the French Institute this January.”
For more information on the festival – which runs January 26-29 – or the screening tonight, visit the &PROUD Facebook page.
The sky explodes over Pyin Oo Lwin during the annual Tazaungdaing festival on November 12.
Volunteers decorate a balloon rig before launching it.