A 67-year-old woman is standing next to an open-air truck in the city on martial law, fearlessly scolding young paramilitary police officers sitting behind wooden and steel bars holding them back – for now.
She is someone’s daughter, probably a wife, a mother, a grandmother.
“You are defending the dictator, General Min Aung Hlang! ” She shouts, wiggling her finger like an old fierce school meme.
Sometimes shaky footage from a mobile phone is one of the inwardly powerful first shots of the Berlinale Panorama documentary The Diaries of Myanmar.
“We are crying over the girl who was shot in the head. They shot her on purpose … Don’t blindly follow orders, you must know what is right and what is wrong! ”
Yangon, Myanmar: Less than three weeks after the military government led by General Hlaing seized power in a coup on February 1, 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic is in full swing and everyone is wearing masks to protect themselves from the coronavirus.
At least 1,549 people have been killed by the junta and more than 9,130 have been arrested, charged or convicted since.
The world premiere of the film, which Berlinale artistic director Carlo Chatrian called “politically very relevant”, took place on Saturday.
The danger of making such a film in a country where even picking up a mobile phone to relieve police brutality can be a death sentence is such that none of those who shot Myanmar’s Diaries count, and (in solidarity) enroll these individuals. Europeans from Dutch producers ZINdoc or fans who include the Dutch Film Fund.
But in Berlin there are representatives of the Burmese team – the Myanmar Film Collective Team (MFC).
Variety talked to a friend.
“The military has been planning a coup for a long time – since 2015, when they lost a lot in the general election,” said an MFC member, referring to the first free elections in a quarter of a century in Myanmar.
“Then in November 2020, when [democratically elected leader] Aung San Suu Kyi international popularity was declining, they were hoping to regain some places. But they lost even more than in 2015. “
When General Hlang demanded to take a leadership position in the new government, Aung San sent him to pack. She was among the first to be arrested and imprisoned when the coup began.
For ordinary Burmese, after several short years of freedom and economic growth, the shock of being overthrown by the bondage of military thugs was too great – and thousands took to the streets, banging their pots and pans in protest.
Police and the army responded with live shelling, and the slaughter began.
“The case is gaining momentum:” Young people took the salute with three fingers – first borrowed from the Hollywood movie “The Hunger Games” by Thai protesters and students in Hong Kong, “- says an MFC member.
The 70-minute film combines raw footage from a mobile phone and reconstructions based on real events. A father, holding his dead little boy in his arms, cries and cries, “My son was killed!”
Young women cry in horror when a group of soldiers with rifles take their father away from their village.
The black-and-white montage of the junta leader is sandwiched between the microsecond videos of the dead protester – his head was smashed by a bullet.
In the reenactment, the grieving husband watches over a blood-stained construction helmet and a blood-soaked T-shirt that belonged to his wife. women’s clothing.
In an obscure scene, he presses her panties to her face to inhale her sexy scent for the last time before getting into the car, ties his fingers in a three-finger salute, starts the engine and aerates himself through a rubber tube. to the car exhaust.
An anonymous Burmese director explains: “Burmese society is incredibly conservative. The naked actor is completely subversive. Older, conservative men believe they walk under lingerie [on a washing line, for example] deprives you of courage. The junta has no sense of humor, and sexual references are especially undesirable. ”
The brutal crackdown on the junta, described by producers Peter Lom and his wife Karin van Egeraat as a “total kleptocracy … it’s mostly a mafia seizure of resources”, has only served to unite the country against the dictatorship, and armed militias are now training in remote jungles. fight the junta.
“Sometimes you have to meet fire with fire,” says the anonymous director. “If the other side has no sense of humanity – you have no choice.”