Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Human rights film festival announced for Yangon

Submissions are being sought from filmmakers throughout the world to take part in an international film festival to be held in Yangon from June 15 to 19, under the theme “Human Rights, Human Dignity”.

Filmmakers can submit works about human rights in three categories: documentary, short film and animation. Separate prizes will be given for local and international entries, the festival’s organiser, Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi, told The Myanmar Times.

He said he got the idea to hold a film festival with a human rights theme after attending the One World Film Festival in Prague in the Czech Republic last March.

“After I came back from Prague I decided I was less interested in organising a festival about freedom and more interested in one that would highlight human rights,” said Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi.

“The Czech Republic changed from a communist country to a democracy with leadership from writer Vaclav Havel around 1990,” he said. “Even those countries that changed to democracies 20 years ago are still raising awareness about human rights, so as a person with some knowledge about filmmaking, I’d like to hold that kind of festival in Myanmar.”

He said he chose June 19 as the closing date for the festival because it is the birthday of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and he wanted to honour her efforts to fight for human rights.

“Daw Aung San Suu Kyi used the word ‘human rights’ during the 1988 uprising, and she has always used it together with the word ‘democracy’,” he said.

“I first heard phrases like, ‘There are violations of human rights in Myanmar’ and ‘People should enjoy human rights completely’ from Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. I’d never heard these words from anyone or found them in books. I’d like to honour this person who is always struggling for human rights.”

Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi said that currently, the judges for the festival are himself and 88 Generation students leader Ko Min Ko Naing.

“I asked Ko Min Ko Naing to be a judge because he understands about art, and there will also be three international judges,” said Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi.

“I’m not sure which foreign countries we’ll be submissions from. We have contact with the One World Film Festival, so I think the countries that are within reach of that group will participate.”

Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi said one important aspect of the festival is that it will be completely organised by locals.

“I attended one film festival in Laos and was surprised to find that all of the organisers were foreigners. When Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Ko Thura [Zaganar] and I organised the Art of Freedom Film Festival [in Yangon in January 2012], we did it all locally, and it will be the same with the upcoming festival.”

Films must be submitted to the Human Rights, Human Dignity Film Festival no later than May 10. Applications can be found online.

Translated by Thiri Min Htun