Over the Myanmar moon
Migrant workers in Thailand can 'revisit' their homeland when 'The Moon Lotus' screens hereInspired by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi's visit to Thailand in May, when she was greeted by thousands of Myanmar migrant workers, director Zin Yaw Maung Maung has decided to bring his latest movie, "The Moon Lotus", to screen at several locations here.
The romantic drama, adapted from Khin Khin Htoo's novel of the same name, is a story about unrequited love between two college students who are separated for years.
The film will be screened here commercially for the first time on October 13 and 14 in Mahachai, the Samut Songkram port city that's home to Thailand's biggest population of Myanmar migrant workers.
"The Moon Lotus" will then be shown in Phuket on November 11 and 12, and in Chon Buri's Sri Racha district on December 1 and 2. With a Burmese soundtrack, it's subtitled in English.
The movie debuted in Thailand in January last year as part of the Hua Hin International Film Festival.
Unofficial records indicate that Thailand has more than two million Myanmarese migrant labourers working in low-skill jobs around the country.
"The film will allow them to enter a temporary dream in which they can visit Mingun, Bagan, Mandalay, Sagaing and the Shan Mountains in Myanmar," the director told The Nation last Saturday. "I hope they'll hold onto their dream of coming back home."
"The Moon Lotus" cost the equivalent of US$250,000 (Bt7.8 million), which is twice the normal budget for a Myanmarese film, and was produced by Chindwin Movie Production, an emerging production house. Sound editing took a month and was handled by Technicolor's facilities in Thailand.
Normally it's difficult to obtain permission to film scenes in or around universities, hospitals, airports and courts, but Zinyaw Maung Maung was able to shoot at prestigious Mandalay University.
"It took me overall eight months to prepare, because I had to keep in mind the dignity and pride of Mandalay University. First the script had to be submitted to the ministries of Information and Education.
"The movie will be shown in Bangkok if there's enough interest from the Thai audience," he said. "After Thailand it will be shown in Singapore. This movie could be a breakthrough for Myanmar movies to go international."
The film is scheduled to screen at the Cathay Cineplex in Singapore in November.
With its economy on the rise, Myanmar is now entering a new era of filmmaking, where everything needs to be bigger, better and more international, Zinyaw Maung Maung said.
"Myanmar audiences now know everything on the Internet. The moviemakers should pay close attention, no matter what kind of film they're making. The system of moviemaking should change. We need to upgrade the digital, graphic and sound systems, and more new actors are needed."
Zinyaw Maung Maung has twice received the Myanmar Academy Award for his directing. The first came in 1994 for "Ta Pyay Thu Ma Shwe Htar". Ten years later it was "Mystery of Snow", which was also released internationally.
His next project is a historical film about King Bayintnaung (known in Thailand as King Burengnong), one of the country's three greatest monarchs.