The Europeans are back in town

With the 26th annual European Film Festival upon us, Myanmar film censors have their scissors at the ready
Less than two weeks after the end of the Wathann Filmfest, another film festival has arrived in town. The 26th annual European Film Festival will see 13 films from 11 European countries screened over 10 days at Yangon’s iconic Nay Pyi Taw cinema. And it’s all free.

The biggest and oldest international film festival in Myanmar provides a rare opportunity to share the European culture and identity with Myanmar people, says Franz Xaver Augustin, director of the Goethe-Institut Myanmar, who organised this year’s festival.

But as ever, a major barrier to the fruitful exchange of culture is Myanmar’s prudish film censorship board, which has chosen to blur out scenes from several of the films this year in a bid to protect the sensibilities of local audiences.

“After the election of the NLD government we expected films not to be censored before they are shown at the cinema,” Augustin told Pulse.

“We were actually hoping that the new government would have the power to abolish the old [censorship] customs. But we still have to present the films to the censorship board,” he told a European Film Festival press conference in Yangon.

Scenes from four of the films have been marked by the censorship board as inappropriate. But rather than cutting scenes out, the board has agreed to simply cover the objective of the projector during screenings.

“It’s a kind of an obstruction to the art work and that’s horrible,” he added.

Each of Yangon’s European embassies will be introducing a film from their respective country.

Award winning Italian drama, Human Capital, directed by Paolo Virzi, which follows the aftermath of a hit-and-run as two families are united together amid an atmosphere of money worship and status anxiety, will open the festival with a screening at 6.30pm on September 22 at Nay Pyi Taw cinema.

“Europe is far away from Myanmar in terms of distance,” Matteo D’Alonzon, deputy head of Mission Embassy of Italy said, “But both European countries and Myanmar have a strong culture of tradition. We want to get people together and exchange theses cultures”.

Finnish comedy-drama The Other Side of Hope, which is showing on Saturday night, follows a travelling salesman who decides to buy a restaurant. After his business fails initially, he hires a young Syrian refugee who fled to Finland after losing his home and family in a rocket attack and the two unlikely friends strive to help each other. Finnish director, Aki Kaurismaki, dedicated his film to migrants fleeing war and terror.

Screenings will take place twice a day: 3.30pm and 6.30pm at Nay Pyi Taw Cinema while three children’s films will be shown on November 1 at Dagon 1 High School.

Tickets are available for free at the Nay Pyi Taw Cinema ticket counter until 30 minutes before movies begin and will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information, visit to and facebook/europeanfilmfestival.yangon

Source : Myanmar Times