Wathann Filmfest: And the winner is... love
S the curtains closed on the 7th edition of the Wathann Filmfest on Monday, an overarching theme emerged from the pool of over 70 films shown. Love.
In total, there were 12 documentaries, 16 short films and one experimental film featured in the local competition over two days.
Society’s most vulnerable featured at the centre of many of the films including LGBT people, sex workers and undocumented laborers.
“I watched all the films and liked most of them,” said Edo Vader, whose short animation film Thaa Shin Pyu won the award for Best Short Film. “This festival is independent and the films here are suitable for young people as they show so many sides of our society.”
Thaa Shin Pyu follows a father and son relationship in the lead up to the young boy’s ordination as a novice monk. Their relationship is rocked when the father meets unexpected challenges but eventually he recovers to be able to hold the coming of age ceremony for his son.
Judges praised the 12-minutelong tear jerker for its creativity and the themes generosity and honesty which are prevalent throughout.
“This year’s festival was full of love stories. Generosity and honesty is a foundation of filmmaking so I hope all filmmakers can carry themes through their films like this,” said Michael Zaw, one of the judges, on his selection.
Director Edo Vader created Thaa Shin Pyu because he wanted to give the audience a taste of the type of animation he has been in love with since his childhood.
“Most people think that animation is just for children and they don’t respect animators like me,” Edo Vader, who otherwise goes by the name Ko Wanna, said.
“I wanted to create this touching film to prove that they are wrong. This gives me the strength to do more animation films in future”.
A Simple Love Story, directed by Hnin Phyu Phyu Soe, which documents an LGBT love story, took home the award for Best Documentary Film.
The film, however, never made it onto the big screen. Hnin Phyu Phyu Soe pulled the film from the lineup in protest to objections by the film censorship board with its last scene, which they had deemed unsuitable for local audiences.
“The love between LGBT people is simple, like everyone else,” she said.
“I felt it was unfair that the censorship board wanted to cut some dialogue out of my film. I mean, they allow most mainstream films that attack the LGBT community to be shown to the public but they object to the dialogue in this film. So, I chose not to show my film at the festival”.
The judges also awarded the New Vision Award, which goes to films that have a fresh or experimental approach, to director Sai Kong Khan for his 18-minutelong film, Train. Train follows a journey of self-discovery on the Yangon circular line.
In its first year, the award for Best Actor went to Pyae Pyae, for Ok I’m Fine and Awakening, while the Audience Choice Award went to Wai Yum for his portrayal of a young transgender woman in her struggle to become a beauty pageant queen in the documentary Miss Or Miss.
“I’m very thankful to the filmmakers who submitted this year”, Ma Thu Thu Shein, the festival’s director, said. “Without them, we would not be able to make this happen.”
An audience at the Waziya Cinema looks on as a film is introduced as part of the Wathann Filmfest in Yangon.
A still from the animated film Thaa Shin Pyu which was awarded Best Short Film at the Wathann Filmfest.
A still from the short film Train which was awarded the New Vision Award at the Wathann Filmfest.