Screening | Filmmaking for Democracy in Myanmar

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 - 4:30pm

Peter Decherney presents

Filmmaking for Democracy in Myanmar

Filmmaking for Democracy in Myanmar is an 8-minute long documentary about the film industry of Myanmar (formerly Burma). Directed by Penn Cinema Studies professor Peter Decherney, it was shot in Myanmar in March 2015 and features beautiful images of the country and its film industry from film sets to DVD duplication houses to popcorn sold on the streets outside movie theaters.

On November 8, 2015 Myanmar is scheduled to have its first democratic general election. The documentary addresses the upcoming election through the lens of Myanmar’s little-known film industry. It explores the liberalization of censorship in Myanmar following a 2011 reorganization of the government. Since 2011, filmmakers have been able to take advantage of new speech rights, making political films, horror films, and subversive comedies.

Interview subjects include Myanmar’s leading filmmakers, a former movie star, and the U.S. ambassador to Myanmar. The film places them in dialogue, offering a range of perspectives on the current state and future of film production. They worry about self-censorship and the state re-asserting its control over the industry. They explain the social function of comedy. And they describe how Buddhist attitudes permeate the country’s political situation and films. In the end, they look to the election and ask the question: Is this a brief opening which may now close or have things come too far to turn back?

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