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Myanmar: “The situation is worse today than after the coup”

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Chaos has reigned in this small Southeast Asian country since the coup d’état of 1er February 2020. Over 1,000 dissidents have been killed in the past year and 8,000 have been arrested.

Two young filmmakers, a Myanmarese who cannot reveal her identity and a Frenchwoman, testify to the dictatorship with unseen images filmed in the country. Their short film titled 1er February had its world premiere at the Singapore International Film Festival.

Mo Mo (not real name), you live in Myanmar. How are you and how do you view the recent developments regarding Aung San Suu Kyi?

Mo Mo – This revolution makes me go through several emotional states. It changes from month to month. Recently, motivation and determination didn’t come over me as much as before. The hope and desire for change is still there, but it is crumbling under the weight of my everyday life.

The danger is so great every day and I hear so much bad news every day in Myanmar. There is no real justice here, so the developments are not surprising. No one is surprised, as we expected.

However, a feeling of optimism emerges from the short film. 1er February which is a reflection on freedom.

Mo Mo – We did the shoot in March and April 2020 and we were hopeful at that time. Me, it was the first time that I saw and that I took part in gigantic demonstrations. There were many of us in the street, but the military junta did not listen to us at all.

We believed that if the world rose up with us, it would bring about the desired change. But nothing happened. On the contrary, the military junta increased the pressure, kidnapped demonstrators. There are deaths in the streets. The situation is worse today than after the coup.

Leïla Macaire, you are a French director. How do you see the situation in Myanmar?

Leïla Macaire – Myanmar, for me, was the first country I traveled to on my own and where I was alone for the first time away from home. In fact, this country represented at the end of this trip an enormous feeling of freedom, to feel good in the present moment with the discovery and the meeting.

That’s why a year later, in the same period when there was this coup, it touched me enormously. The landscape has changed completely and that’s what questioned me.

This short is personal, but it also feels universal, right?

Mo Mo We are talking about freedom, how we can live it while being alone and serene, but also in a group united for an ideal. This form of freedom can be overwhelming. There are several movements around the world, not just in Myanmar, that are fighting for justice.

Leïla Macaire This film really seeks to show the gaze of a French woman and a Burmese woman who have different opportunities, political situations and lives. The difference between people in the world is something that interests me a lot.

We are so used to violence everywhere that there is some that we forget. We talk more about those for which we have geopolitical interests.

The important thing is to show with this film that we can still continue to have links between us, to create things and to make unity despite the misfortunes that can happen in certain parts of the world.

What do you want now?

Mo Mo It’s obvious! (laughs). I wish the people of Myanmar to win their battle. It is possible, because we do not give up.

Leïla Macaire What I hope is just that Mo, one day, feels the same security as I do where she lives. I hope that she and I, we meet, that we are together in person. Not united in fear, but just with questions about creation.

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