A short word from the director, Philip Soe Aung
The Kayan ethnic group lives in the mountainous border areas of Eastern Burma. They are around 50 000, living in Burma's smallest and poorest state, Kayah. For almost 60 years, the ethnic groups in Kayah State fought the Burmese military junta, to assert their right to self determination and the democratic rights of all Burmese people, whatever their ethnicity. Today, Kayah State found peace. But the various tribes here still live in very poor conditions and struggle to be heard at a national level.
My name is Philip, I am 21. I am of Kayan and Kayaw ascent. I live in Loikaw, capital of Kayah State and I work with a local civil society organization called UKSY (Union of Karenni State Youth). This organization is mainly trying to help all the local people defend themselves against the various injustice still happening here : land-grabs, mining projects affecting people's livelihood, lack of education...
With the support of my organization, I try to shoot documentaries about all of this.
But today, I would like to do something new to express the Kayan culture. Not a documentary for people to pity us, but a movie, an entertaining piece of art – to show what we can do. A movie for people here to enjoy, to tell in a fictional way, what our lives are about, but also what we are fed up with in our very conservative society.
Philip is talking about the movie. - with French subtitles
We need to prove that we are able to create our own new culture. Not just absorb it from elsewhere, nor just inform people through documentaries about the humanitarian help we need. I think cultural freedom is a good way to emancipate ourselves. Here, young people have no space, nothing to enjoy themselves and create their own cultures. No space for art, nor for music, no bars, or nightclubs. We just want to do something about it, by creating the first ever Kayan-made movie.
This movie would be a one-hour long crime-love story without complacency, taking place around Loikaw and dealing with ethnic issues here that were never shown on screen. For now the in-progress title is Get Away. Get Away because this movie is about running. Running away to free one's self from the shackles of our trouble past, to build a life worth living.
Alex was forced to join a local armed group when she was thirteen. Ten years later, she could escape from it by working her way up the ranks. With the people she met during her years as a child soldier, she was able to make a living and provide for her family by selling drugs. Now she has a flourishing business in Loikaw's neighborhood and she is known as the only lady drug dealer around.
Still, being a woman in this underground world is very tough. She had to become strong to face the other local drug dealers. The movie starts when her business is getting into a lot of trouble. Her deals with local armed groups and corrupted police officers are collapsing. But among her usual customers, yaba-addicted (the drug that makes you crazy, Burmese/Thai name for meta-amphetamines), there is James. He witnesses the hardships she had to face. Although trying to overcome his addiction, he can't get her out of his head. As the movie goes, James might even be able to help her, as he is a journalist. Together, they will have to fight their way through adversity and try to create their new path.
In Kayah State, drugs is a sensitive issue that no authority really adress. With meta-amphetamine being very easily available in this area. For a long time, armed groups financed their rebellion by encouraging people to grow opium so they could benefit from the trade. Everyday lives are ruined by the addiction, and no one can do anything. Police just let the well-connected dealers do what they want, while local organizations lacks funds to deal with this issue and help the users.
We choose to take a woman as the lead character, to promote women's rights in Kayah State. In our society, in every aspect of the daily life, women are still considered as subsidiary. If you are a woman, older males will always disapprove if you speak too loud, if you drink, smoke or get out at night. They all think a Burmese girl should just behave “properly” and nothing more.
The movie will be in Burmese, Kayan, Kayah etc + English subtitles
Once completed the movie will be uploaded on Youtube, for we cannot aim for official release (Myanmar board of censorship will never allow it).
If ever we manage to achieve this project, we will give free copies of the movie during humanitarian events in Myanmar.
A lot of our crew has no experience in acting or directing, but they are all ready and excited about this project, and all they need is to get a chance to prove themselves.
Philip Soe Aung : I shoot mainly small scales documentaries for UKSY. I learned how to shoot from everywhere I could and I spend a lot of time experimenting on different subjects.
Taw Mas : 21, the most experienced in the crew, he already directed two movies about Kayan youth. But without any financial or technical supports, his movies remain mainly underground.
Dee Dee : one of the prominent activist in Kayah State, he has no experience as an actor, but knows a lot about police officers and armed groups related stories here. He is also helping us raise funds in Myanmar and encourage our ideas.
Bu Myar : 22, she may not be famous yet, for it is her first time as a lead character. But she may be one of the only girls who has the guts to impersonate a strong feminine character. Besides this movie debut, she works at UKSY office.
James : 23, this is his first step in the acting business, but he fits the part perfectly. For now, he is working as a human rights teacher in a local organization called KNGY (Kayan New Generation Youth).
Cast and Crew (for now) :
Alex : Bu Myar
James : James
Corrupt police officer : Dee Dee
Drug user cop : Jovani
Armed group leader : Saw Maung
Gangster Ko Gyi : Antonio Ko Gyi
Ko Gyi's uncle : Dominic
Armed group soldier : Freddy Ko Latt, Bru Ri, Shan Lay, Lopu Gyi, Tereh
Mechanic : Philip Soe Aung
Alex (13 years old) : Caroline
Alex's friend : Catherine
Drug users : Tin Maung (student), Kyaw Mint (business man), Veronica (sex worker), Gino (gangster), Myo Aung (military soldier)
Director : Philip Soe Aung
Assistant Director : Taw Mas
Camera : Philip Soe Aung, Khu Tu Tu Lay
Sound effect : Tin Maung
Lights effects : Bar To
Settings designer : James
Make up : Soe Paing
Costume designer : Tun Tun Oo
Special Effects : Phar Mael
Communication/Public Relations : Matthieu Baudey, Carole Oudot
Producers : Philip Soe Aung, Taw Mas, Dee Dee
Storywriter : Philip Soe Aung, Taw Mas
Music composer : Aigh Bote
Graphic Designer : Oathra Aung
Editor : Phar Male
Camera Crew : Steven Red Star
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