TIDF Announces Focus Programme “Metaphor of the Times: The Reality Named Myanmar" 26 Cross-genre Films documenting Various Facets of Myanmar’s "Reality"

The Taiwan International Documentary Festival (TIDF), organized by the Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute (TFAI), scheduled for May 10-19, 2024, has unveiled its Focus Programme titled "Metaphors of the Times: The Reality Named Myanmar." This segment will showcase 26 cross-genre films from Myanmar, spanning mood diaries, frontline documentaries, futuristic fantasies, audio-visual experiments, and more. These works capture real-world situations or articulate inner experiences, collectively portraying Myanmar's distinctive reality. Selected films include IDFA selection, The Clinic by Midi Z, Midwives, the winner of Special Jury Award at the 2022 Sundance FF, and Ten Years Myanmar screened at the 2023 Busan IFF.


The independent film scene in Myanmar has been closely linked to the country’s democratic development, where visual storytelling not only serves as a means of recording reality, but also provides a medium for filmmakers to voice their perspectives. Despite facing substantial challenges such as military coups and film censorship, Myanmar has steadily fostered a "collective" film community through local film festivals and nonprofit film education institutions.

When curating this section, the TIDF team traveled to conduct interviews with filmmakers and search for works. TIDF Programme Director Wood LIN remarked: "The thematic scope of our focus programme is vast and rare. Our primary aim is to showcase the diverse creativity of Myanmar's films. We focused on new works, complemented by older ones. The concept of 'reality' flickers in many works, depicting cinema as both a response to the times and a metaphor for the times."

In addition to the screenings, a special brochure featuring interviews with filmmakers and articles on Myanmar cinema will be published. Thu Thu Shein, director of the Wathann Film Festival, alongside filmmakers and members of the filmmaking community, is invited to join TIDF discussion forums on the state of documentary cinema in Myanmar.


Frontline Chronicles, Visual Letters, and Collages

Amid Myanmar's difficult political climate, many creators opt for anonymous presentations due to concerns for their personal safety. Numerous films tackle resistance and the aftermath of the military coup. Comradeship (rough cut) (2023) provides direct insights into daily life on the battlefield, showcasing soldiers communicating via walkie-talkies and in front of the camera. Comrade Poopy (2023) documents the life of a couple bloggers who joined the frontline resistance in a remote mountainous area, sharing their experiences with a newly adopted cat named Poopy.

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Comradeship (rough cut) (2023), Comrade Poopy (2023)


Various formats are employed, including visual collages, private diaries, and letters. Losing Ground (2023) is a poignant collage of images by anonymous filmmakers imprisoned for participating in the protests. February 1st (2021) features two female directors, one from Myanmar and one from France, utilizing video footage as a form of correspondence. Expressing their longing for freedom and creativity, they reflect on the current situation of resistance in Myanmar.

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Losing Ground (2023),  February 1st (2021)


Imagining the Future through Fiction, Documenting the Present

As a response to the tumultuous circumstances, some directors choose to intertwine documentary and fiction, using metaphors to convey reality. Ten Years Myanmar (2023) stands as a representative work of "collective creation", continuing the "Ten Years Series" initiated in 2015 across Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, and Thailand. This film delves into the "future" of post-coup Myanmar through five stories that span science fiction, social realism, and meta-comedy. Myanmar Diaries (2022) by the anonymous Myanmar Film Collective, also blends reality and fiction, featuring first-person perspectives and chilling citizen journalism footage to portray the hopeless state after Myanmar’s military coup.


Ten Years Myanmar (2023), Myanmar Diaries (2022)


Through personal interviews and ethnographic recording, filmmakers manage to restore narrative power to the subjects. The camera becomes a silent witness to the "present," preserving voices and images. Nargis - When Time Stopped Breathing (2009) marks the first self-produced documentary feature by Myanmar creators who clandestinely filmed amidst government restrictions. It vividly captures the aftermath of the 2008 Nargis cyclone, navigating through the ruins and sharing the stories of the victims. In a different narrative, Midwives (2022) documents the resilient efforts of two midwives in the Rakhine State, one Buddhist and one Muslim, persisting in delivering babies amidst turmoil and conflict.

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Nargis - When Time Stopped Breathing (2009), Midwives (2022)


Midi Z's The Clinic (2023) delves into the lives of a doctor couple in a Yangon mental health clinic. The subjects utilize cameras for creative expression, seeking stability and healing. The programme also features The Clinic (2010) by Dr. Aung Min, one of the subjects in Midi Z’s work of the same name. This documentary short offers a lyrical and tender perspective on life, death, and illness. In 2013, Aung Min founded the independent film group "TEN MEN" and produced short films such as Mrauk Oo Story (2015) and Fisherman Story (2017), which respectively capture the playful nature of young boys and the lives of fishermen dictated by the ebb and flow of the sea.


The Clinic (2023), The Clinic (2010)

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Mrauk Oo Story (2015), Fisherman Story (2017)

Experiments with Light and Shadow, Surreal Social Allegories

Myanmar boasts a vibrant creative community of young independent filmmakers that shapes a unique filmscape. Founded by Moe Myat May Zarchi, "3-ACT" film community unites creators to exchange poetic, experimental, and abstract audio-visual expression techniques. In films like Light Matter (2022) or Mental Landscape (2023), filmmakers express their perceptions of society through the interplay of light and shadow, rhythmic poetry, audio-visual dislocations, and abstract artworks. Moe Myat May Zarchi's film The Altar (2023), a mixed-media work delving into childhood Zen fantasies about the reincarnation of ants.

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Light Matter (2022), Mental Landscape (2023), The Altar (2023)


Other films, such as Yangon the City Where We Live (2017) by the recent unjustly imprisoned female filmmaker Shin Daewe, and Train (2017), are visual poems on the flow of time, depicting the routines of two Yangon households and the daily lives of the city's ordinary people from a moving train. Meanwhile, Me and My Country Pornography (2022) investigates ideas around pornography, pleasure, boredom, repetition and cruelty through an otherworldly narrative.

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Yangon the City Where We Live (2017)、Train (2017), Me and My Country Pornography (2022)


The 14th Taiwan International Documentary Festival (TIDF) is set to take place from May 10th to May 19th at the Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute, SPOT Huashan, Vie Show Cinemas Taipei Qsquare, and Taiwan Contemporary Culture Lab (C-LAB). The festival will bring together almost 140 captivating documentaries from both domestic and international sources, welcoming nearly a hundred international filmmakers for the first time since the pandemic. Alongside film screenings and post-screening discussions, attendees can engage in lectures, performances, and extensive exhibitions, all geared towards expanding the audience's perception of documentaries through a rich and diverse array of content. Shortlists for the competitions were announced on February 19th, with more program details to be gradually revealed. Please stay tuned to the  TIDF official website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more information.


Focus Programme | Metaphors of the Times: The Reality Named Myanmar

Ten Years Myanmar
Thaiddhi、Nay Wunn Ni、Myo Thar Khin、Aung Min、Lamin Oo│Myanmar│2023│104 min

February 1st
Mo Mo (pseudonym)、Leïla MACAIRE│Myanmar、France│2021│12 min

Myanmar Diaries
The Myanmar Film Collective│Netherlands、Myanmar、Norway│2022│70 min

Nargis - When Time Stopped Breathing
The Maw Naing、Pe Maung Same│Germany、Myanmar│2009│90 min

Three Strangers
Lamin Oo│Myanmar│2021│68 min

Snow Hnin Ei Hlaing │Myanmar、Germany、Canada│2022│92 min

The Clinic
Midi Z│Taiwan、Myanmar│2023│87 min

Song of Souls
Sai Naw Kham│Myanmar│2023│72 min

The Clinic
Aung Min│Myanmar│2010│21 min

Mrauk Oo Story
Aung Min、Than Kyaw Htay│Myanmar│2015│25 min

Fisherman Story
Aung Min│Myanmar│2017│26 min

Plastic Bag
Than Lwin Oo│Myanmar│2024│20 min

The Altar 
Moe Myat May Zarchi│Myanmar│2023│11 min

Light Matter
Mann Pye Phyo Aung (Gu Gu)│Myanmar│2022│16 min

Mental Landscape
Sai Kong Kham│Myanmar│2023│7 min

Me and My Country Pornography
Lin Htet Aung│Myanmar│2022│8 min

Once Upon a Time There Was a Mom
Lin Htet Aung│Myanmar│2023│30 min

Journey of a Bird
Anonymous│Myanmar│2021│28 min

Losing Ground
Anonymous LG Team│Myanmar│2023│23 min

Comrade Poopy
M│Myanmar、France、Japan│2023│20 min

Comradeship (rough cut)
Mauk Kham Wah│Myanmar│2023│15 min

Green Is Liberated Color
Anonymous│Myanmar│2023│11 min

Again and Again
The Maw Naing│Myanmar│2005│11 min

Hands Around in Yangon
Moe Satt│Myanmar│2012│7 min

Yangon the City Where We Live
Shin Daewe│Myanmar│2017│25 min

Sai Kong Kham│Myanmar│2017│20 min