Arts

Yangon Photo Festival Spotlights Some of Myanmar's Pressing Issues

By Lwin Mar Htun 18 February 2020

Yangon – The 12th Yangon Photo Festival (YPF) will open on Feb. 19 with more than 200 documentary photos raising awareness of issues like environmental threats, peace-building and social justice.

The free festival, which describes itself as Asia’s largest photo and advocacy festival, will run until Feb. 23. It includes photo exhibitions, screenings and parties at multiple locations including Maha Bandoola Park, the Goethe Institut, Institut Français, Yangon Central Railway Station, the Rosewood Hotel, Dala Ferries, Junction City, Myanmar Deitta and Ahla Thit art gallery.

“Every year, the YPF offers a unique opportunity to meet photographers from all over Myanmar and the world, make friends and discuss important issues in a party atmosphere,” said Christophe Loviny, founder and artistic director of the festival.

During the five-day festival, the works of famous photographers including Pascal Maître, Steve McCurry, Franck Seguin and Fausto Podavini will be showcased with projects by Myanmar’s renowned photographers Hkun Lat, Hkun Li and Ko Myo, and talented young photographers from Myanmar’s states and regions where YPF organizes photographic training.

“In the last 12 years, we have trained more than 1,000 young men and women from all backgrounds, religions and ethnicities to produce short documentaries about the most important social and environmental issues affecting their lives,” said Loviny.

The event is mainly supported by the European Union, the embassies of the Netherlands, France and Switzerland, the International Labor Organization, the Goethe Institut and the Rosewood Hotel.

According to the Wildlife Conservation Society, only around 70 dolphins still live in the Ayeyarwady River between Mandalay and Bhamo. They are considered an endangered species. An exhibition will be shown at Dala Ferries. / Aung Thu.

Kristian Schmidt, EU ambassador to Myanmar, said: “The Yangon Photo Festival has become the largest of its kind in Southeast Asia and made Myanmar a place where people gather from across the region to discuss issues such as climate change and social injustice, war and conflict, hate speech and threats to freedom of expression. The EU is proud to host Hkun Li’s powerful story on the worrying impact of rapidly growing banana plantations on communities in Kachin State. I am glad to see that such open discussions can and do take place in Myanmar today.”

The opening ceremony will be at the Goethe Institut on Feb. 19 with a photo-book exhibition by the Myanmar Photo Archive (MPA) and other photo projects by domestic and international photographers.

The MPA is showing early photographs at the Rosewood Hotel, many of which were taken around the time of the building’s construction in the late 1920s.

A “photo village” is being set up at Maha Bandoola Park and will screen documentaries on a giant screen alongside the World Press Photo exhibition.

The Yangon photo night award ceremony includes a competition for the best photo story in front of a jury of domestic and international personalities on Feb. 23 at the Institut Français.

The prizes include a trip to Amsterdam for the World Press Photo Awards and Canon cameras.

“Since the first event in 2009, the Institut Français has been proud to support the YPF. The photo night always attracts a vast crowd, moved by the stories that are screened,” said Gilles Guillot, cooperation attaché at the French Embassy and deputy director of the Institut Français.

The festival team expects more than 300,000 visitors this year. Entrance is free and schedules are on the Yangon Photo Festival Facebook page.

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