28 October 2012 | JvH48
Nice inside view in current Burma, implicitly showing large differences between cities and villages
I saw this film as part of the Rotterdam Film Festival 2012. Before the film started we were told that this is the first feature film ever shot in Burma. A logical question for the final Q&A was about particular problems in making this film. Three challenges were mentioned: (a) censorship, being avoided but I missed the details, (b) crew of only three persons, and (c) emotions when filming in his own home town, making it difficult to stay objective.
The final product can very well be of interest for people from Burma living abroad nowadays, if only to let them see what changed in the mean time. An initial form of democracy is one aspect, but we see and hear only the official promotions around the elections. A second interesting phenomenon is the advent of western style pop music, though a-typical for local folks, yet serving as an explicit escape from the past.
The end result we saw screened has all the appearances of a documentary. The home coming after many years is only a means to an end, namely to show contemporary Burma. For this purpose we see our main character asking about wages and prices, which is the best way to obtain information that is particularly useful when coming from a different country with a much higher standard of living. He was used to wages 10 times as high as what was normal in current Burma.
What struck me most was the difference between the village where our main characters originally came from, compared with the city that was visited at a later stage. For instance, in the village we saw no electric devices, while the city appeared to be full of them. The latter is shown explicitly by visiting a shop that sells micro waves, phones, and more such devices. This discrepancy was certainly relevant for us, living under very different circumstances. We could easily consider it a sightseeing tour in Burma, covering the old ways (the village) as well as the modern ways (the city) next to each other.