Myanmar Diaries 2023 Movie Review
How does it feel to be forgotten by the world? After the military coup in February 2021, young opposition figures in Myanmar use the cinema screen with their film diaries to communicate with the world in a different way than TV news allows.
Democracy was still something new for them, reports a member of the artists’ collective, whose concentrated filmic protest sets an activist exclamation point in this year’s program of the Berlinale Panorama. For a few minutes, ten works by ten creative artists direct the camera focus to a facet of everyday life in Burma overshadowed by oppression and state violence. From 1962 to 2012, the country was one of the world’s most notorious dictatorships until, after half a century of military rule, an uncertain transition to freedom began.
The peace, however, was infinitely fragile. Like a butterfly being harassed by geckos in a scene. The stop-motion animation is one of the abstract one-act plays that stand alongside naturalistic insights into everyday life and cell phone recordings in reportage style. A young woman in exercise clothes performs exercises to music. What could be a fitness video gets subversive implications from the army barricades secured by armed soldiers in the background. The bizarre motivational video becomes a sarcastic comment on international inaction.
A plastic bag over the head makes the murderous extent of the suffocating coercion tangible, while handwritten protest signs name the political demands that are no longer allowed to be expressed publicly. The abrupt changes in optics, mood and media become a parable for the grueling permanent state of constant political uncertainty in which the people of Myanmar have to endure. And the rest of the world? Watch this. Compared to the chronicle of creative resistance, which achieves maximum effect with minimal means, in a double sense.
Because the military regime uses every means to break up the nationwide peaceful protests and the civil disobedience movement, those involved in the alarming project do not even dare to mention their names in the credits. In the darkness of the cinema, the symbolic blank is a devastating testament to hopelessness and insecurity. The fact that the festival management attested the undoubted political importance of the explosive contemporary document makes the inclusion in the program seem more like an advertising coup than sincere support.