Rakhine Documentary Banned in Myanmar Shown in US

By The Irrawaddy 31 October 2017

YANGON — A short documentary film about young people affected by conflict in troubled Rakhine State which was banned at a recent Yangon film festival has been screened in the United States amid the latest crisis to affect the region.

“Sittwe” is a 20-minute documentary about two teenagers—a Rohingya girl and a Buddhist boy—segregated by conflict in Rakhine.

“The youth share their ideas about mutual fear between their communities and the hope of reconciliation,” according to a synopsis of the film by its makers, adding it was produced to facilitate discussions about peace building in Burma.

Sittwe was banned from being shown at Yangon’s Human Rights Human Dignity Film Festival in June this year by the Films and Video Censorship Board, citing cultural and religious sensitivities.

It premiered at the Freedom Film Festival in Malaysia in Sep this year and was awarded the Best Southeast Asia Short Documentary.

The film was also presented at the US Mission to the United Nations in New York when UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Myanmar Yanghee Lee presented her report to the UN.

The film screenings at universities, theaters and centers in New York, Washington DC and San Francisco are followed by discussions with filmmaker Jeanne Hallacy and producer U Myo Win—the director of Smile Education and Development Foundation, an interfaith organization in Myanmar—with the aim to improve understanding of the situation in Rakhine State and to promote youth education.