RANGOON — The Wathann Film Festival—the first of its kind in Burma—will return to Rangoon’s Waziya Cinema from September 7-11, for the event’s sixth edition.
Inaugurated in 2011 with a mission of improving the standard of local independent films and paving a platform for Burmese independent films, the Wathann Film Festival (WFF) is expanding beyond local work this year; the event has added a new competition category for documentaries from other Southeast Asian countries.
According to festival organizers, the WFF will showcase more than 30 independent films by both local and foreign filmmakers: 15 films have been selected for local competition, nine films for the Southeast Asia competition and around 10 films for non-competitive screenings.
Thaid Dhi, a cofounder of the WFF, told The Irrawaddy that the Wathann Film Festival has selected four documentaries from the Philippines and Thailand, and five films from Burmese filmmakers for the Southeast Asian competition section.
“We have realized that Burmese documentaries become quite strong and qualified to compete at the regional level,” he said.
Adding the new Southeast Asia competition category—rather than submitting local films to festivals in other countries—is a move to show regional independent films to a Burmese audience.
It has been a decade since most Burmese documentarians first began their work, and they have gained recognition at international film festivals in recent years, Thaid Dhi explained, adding that the Burmese audience still remains relatively unfamiliar with international independent films.
“We have selected a Thai documentary [called Sinmalin] which portrays the Burmese migrant issue,” he said. “By showing it, the Burmese audience will have a chance to know a perspective from Thailand on Burmese migrants and the filmmaker’s approach.”
Awards to be presented at the festival include Best Short Film, Best Documentary (Local) and Best Documentary (Southeast Asia) with a monetary prize of 500,000 kyats (US$417) each.