Myanmar collective brings tales of post-coup life to Berlinale

By Reuters and published by Channel NewsAsia

Berlin – You discover you’re pregnant but should you tell your boyfriend, who is bound for the jungle within hours to train with forces fighting the Myanmar junta following a police raid on his safe house?

Police beat up a protester opposite your house. Do you keep filming and risk them noticing, bringing down the wrath of the regime on you and everyone you love. Or do you listen to your family’s pleas to step back from the window and hide?

These are some of the scenarios explored in Myanmar Diaries, a documentary by the Myanmar Collective, 10 young anonymous film-makers who set out to document life in the country since last year’s military coup.

The film, which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival, documents the growing harshness of repression in the country since last year’s Feb. 1 coup, which followed an overwhelming victory for opposition forces in a national election.

“We had to improvise because there was no way we knew how things are going to become bad,” said a member of the collective, who asked not to be identified for their safety.

“The first two or three weeks of the coup the atmosphere was almost festive,” the member said.

The danger and need for secrecy makes for a disjointed 70 minutes, with some segments documentary in style, while other passages are miniature dramas or have the feel of an art installation.

“Various film-makers involved different kinds of storytellers,” said Dutch producer Coronne van Egeraat, who with her husband coordinated the work. “But we made the whole by just communicating back and forth how we would put it together.”

“When the military junta started responding with violence, that’s when it got more dangerous… Our film-making style had to evolve.”

CAPTION:

An illustration of Myanmar Diaries. Photo: Berlinale.de

(Reporting by Swantje Stein, Writing by Thomas Escritt, Editing by William Maclean)

TNR staff

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