Myanmar/Burma: Comedy film about censorship awarded

An 18-minute comedy film, ‘Ban That Scene!’, makes a daring mockery of Burma’s dreaded film censorship board. It was first shown in Rangoon in January 2012 during a film festival titled ‘Art of Freedom’, where it was awarded with the top prize.

The film festival ‘Art of Freedom’ was hosted by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the prominent local comedian Zarganar. ‘Ban This Scene’ took home the top prize of the festival in Rangoon on 4 January 2012 after more than 7,000 voters had crowned the film in a poll held from 1 to 3 January.

The satirical film portrays a government censorship committee struggling to define on what grounds a critical film should be censored.

“Beyond its highly satirical take on modern day filmmaking in Burma, what’s most striking about the movie by Htun Zaw Win, who goes by the name Wyne, is that it was made at all,” writes Todd Pitman in Irrawaddy on 2 May 2012:

“Its existence, coupled with the fact that Wyne has seen no jail time, offers proof that some artists are growing brave enough to criticize the establishment as the nation’s new reform-minded government begins allowing a level of free expression that was unheard of here during decades of suffocating military rule. But the film also proves just how much here remains unchanged. Wyne says he never submitted ‘Ban That Scene!’ to the government’s Film and Video Censor Board for approval because they would almost certainly have, well, banned the entire thing.

The board’s mandate is limited to screening films made for sale, and Wyne says he chose to forgo all profit to ensure it would be produced uncut. The sacrifice was essential, he said, “to show the public both at home and abroad what barriers filmmakers are facing.”

It has been posted on YouTube and Wyne has so far distributed about 10,000 copies on DVD for free.

Wyne, 39, said he has been surprised at the positive response to the film he has received from a few top officials in the country’s post-junta regime.

At the award ceremony in January, after taking home the top prize, Wyne told Mizzima: “It showed people do not accept the flawed system in our film industry. It showed people do not accept censorship and the reasoning of the censors.”

He ends the movie with three hopeful words: “We can change.”

Irrawaddy – 2 May 2012:
Burma Comedy Shows Changing Censorship Rules
By Todd Pitman

Associated Press / Fox News – 1 May 2012:
Myanmar comedy shows struggle for national image
“Ban That Scene!” makes a daring mockery of Myanmar’s dreaded film censorship board, whose members are cast as comical guardians of a tyrannical state’s idealized image of itself.

Mizzima – 5 January 2012:
Art of Freedom film festival smash hit with audience
By Myo Thant

Index on Censorship – 1 January 2012:
Burma: Film festival to test promised freedom

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