Second Human Rights Film Festival to Kick Off Sunday

By Samantha Michaels 11 June 2014

RANGOON — For the second year, an international film festival focused on human rights is set to kick off at two cinemas in Rangoon on Sunday.

The “Human Rights, Human Dignity” festival, which runs through June 19, is organized by award-winning filmmaker Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi with support from opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and renowned activist Min Ko Naing. It will feature 67 documentaries, shorts and animations, with free admission at Waziyar Cinema and Junction Cineplex.

Dozens of international documentaries are on the lineup—ranging from “Ai Wei Wei: The Fake Case,” about the famous Chinese dissident artist; to “Jalanan,” about street musicians in Indonesia; and “The Missing Picture,” an Oscar-nominated documentary about life under Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge. Local documentaries cover topics including the struggles of gay men in Burma, the story of a women’s shelter near the headquarters of an armed group in Kachin State, and the impact of an anti-protest law known as Article 18.

Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi said this year’s festival would include a new award category for filmmakers in member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

“Last year there were only two categories—for national and international. This year we added one more, for Asean, because Burma became the chair of Asean and we wanted to highlight that,” he told The Irrawaddy.

As with last year’s festival, awards will be granted to the best documentary, the best short and the best animation. Three new awards have been added in memory of former Czech President Václav Havel, who was a strong supporter of the Burmese democracy movement; Burmese activist and journalist Win Tin, who passed away in April; and Canadian documentary filmmaker Peter Wintonick, who served as a judge in last year’s festival before passing away in November.

After the award ceremony, the film festival will hit the road to offer free screenings at smaller cities across the country. “We are cooperating with student unions to screen films at different universities,” Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi said.

The Burmese filmmaker is currently busy producing his own documentary about the life of Suu Kyi, though the process is taking longer than expected.

“You know, she is very busy so we are still waiting to get more interviews with her,” he said.

He is also reaching out to Hollywood for assistance on a biopic about Suu Kyi’s father, Burmese independence hero Gen. Aung San.

“Last year in November we finished our script, and we could have just filmed to local standards of quality, but we want to make an international-quality film so we are looking for an international producer,” he said.