LGBT Activist in Spotlight at Human Rights Film Fest

By Aung Thet Htwe 16 June 2015

RANGOON — The third iteration of the Human Rights and Human Dignity International Film Festival (HRHDIFF) kicked off in Rangoon on Monday, featuring a long-awaited documentary about Burmese LGBT activist Aung Myo Min.

“This Kind of Love,” a 45-minute doc directed by Jeanne Marie Hallacy, made its world premiere on Monday at the Naypyidaw Cinema to a very receptive audience, many of whom already knew the subject well.

The film tells the story of Aung Myo Min’s struggles after the 1988 popular uprising, as a student activist and an openly gay man living in exile. Like many other dissidents of his generation, Aung Myo Min fled to the borderlands near Thailand to join an armed resistance to the military regime.

The events of Burma’s post-88 democracy movement are retold through moments in Aung Myo Min’s life, offering a different perspective on life among the country’s young dissidents. Unlike many of his peers, Aung Myo Min and his male partner were often ostracized, despite the movement’s professed commitment to human rights and freedom.

Many of those around him, mostly fellow members of the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF), had trouble accepting his homosexuality. Eventually, Aung Myo Min left the group for Thailand, where he gave up armed struggle in favor of human rights awareness and advocacy.

Aung Myo Min cautiously returned to Burma after political reforms began to kick in, and exiles were allowed back into the country for the first time in decades. He brought with him years of experience in human rights education and LGBT community activism.

“’This Kind of Love’ is not about one individual’s love affair; a man’s pride in his performance and struggle for his country is also a type of love,” Aung Myo Min told the audience after the screening. “Please don’t view this as one man’s story.”

HRHDIFF will carry on through June 19, with screenings of short and feature films by artists from Burma and beyond. “This Kind of Love” will be shown again on Wednesday, June 17 at 12:45pm at the Waziya Cinema on Bogyoke Road, along with British filmmaker Tom Fawthrop’s 2014 documentary “The Great Gamble on the Mekong.”

Trailers, descriptions and a schedule of the films can be found at the festival’s website.