&PROUD fundraiser tonight at Pansuriya

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse - SI THU LWIN sithul­wint@mm­times.com RJ VOGT rj.vogt@mm­times.com

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.

Photo: Si Thu Lwin

The sky ex­plodes over Pyin Oo Lwin dur­ing the an­nual Taza­ung­daing fes­ti­val on Novem­ber 12.

Vol­un­teers dec­o­rate a bal­loon rig be­fore launch­ing it.

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