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Myanmar film in running for BIFF award

BUSAN (AFP) -- A movie shot secretly in Myanmar is in the running for a major award at Asia’s top film festival this week with its director saying he wanted to portray the “real” state of life in the country.
“It is about the truth of Burma,” said Myanmar-born director Midi Z of his first full-length feature, “Return To Burma.”
“It is reality cinema.”
The film is among 13 wildly diverse productions from 12 countries vying for two New Currents awards at the 16th Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), open to first or second-time Asian filmmakers and carrying prizes of $30,000.
Midi Z revealed he had shot 90 per cent of the film in Myanmar and had sneaked his cameras and a small crew into the country after finding official regulations for filming “just far too restrictive.”
“It is very personal,” Midi Z said of the film, the title of which uses Myanmar’s alternative name. “Most of the film belongs to my own experiences.”
“Return to Burma” charts the story of how a man returning to the country of his birth finds the situation has not changed in the years since he left, despite what he had imagined. The director was born in Myanmar but left for Taiwan when he was 16 to further his studies.
Other countries represented in this year’s New Currents include Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Iran, and the collection of films reflects the “incredible diversity and talent” of Asian filmmaking, according to veteran Taiwanese director Yonfan, who heads the awards jury.
Filipino director Loy Arcenas has produced “Nino,” a family drama set within the world of opera, and said he had focused his attention on how human beings behave.
“To me that is the most exciting thing about life,” said Arcenas. “It is a small film but that is the beauty of this award -- it gives small filmmakers a chance to find an audience.”
Topics covered by other productions in the running for the awards include “The Passion of a Man Called Choe Che-u” by director Stanley Park, a historical drama looking at the life and times of a 16th century Korean priest, and “Starry Starry Night” from Tom Lin Shu-yu, based on a Taiwanese fairytale about two children who run away from home.
The award winners will be announced on Friday, the final day of this year’s festival.
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