Return to Burma


Gui lai de ren

Independent fiction films shot in Burma are rare indeed. One filmed by a Chinese-Burmese minority director like Midi Z is unprecedented. 

Director: Midi Z.
Year: 2011
Country: Myanmar, Taiwan
Running time: 84 mins
Censor Rating: PG - animal slaughter

Screenplay/Photography: Midi Z
Producers: Midi Z, Patrick Mao Huang
Editors: Lin Sheng-wen, Midi Z
In Mandarin and Burmese, with English subtitles
84 minutes

With: Wang Shin-hong, Lu Jiun, Yang Shu-lan, Chou Jung-kuo

Festivals: Vancouver, Busan 2011; Rotterdam 2012

Shot (beautifully) under the censors’ radar, this semi-autobiographical, semi-documentary provides a uniquely close encounter with life in an ethnic Chinese community in beleaguered Myanmar/Burma.

Shin-hong is a Burmese labourer who, like many of his compatriots, has worked in construction in Taipei for ten years. He returns home to deliver the ashes of his friend. As he encounters friends and family he sounds out the prospects of earning a livelihood and observes, with the dry humour of the resigned, just how meagre the options in Burma are. The burgeoning black market in goods smuggled from China offers his brightest hope.

While sanctioned pop songs fill the air with jubilant assertions of government enlightenment, first-time director Midi Z adapts a classical style to tell the opposite story. His arrestingly framed long takes reveal the decrepit infrastructure and distil the stifled, restive energies bestirring a society in stagnation. — BG


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