A little bit of Myanmar in Locarno

Spending days in the beautiful Ticino allows me to discover Switzerland’s South during summertime. It’s wonderful. There are plenty of things to do and see and a bit of dolcefarniente to live. In a very spontaneous moment, I look at the program of the international film festival in Locarno and discover a perfect movie for me, starting in one hour. This means, quickly finishing lunch, grabing my stuff and jumping on the bicycle to get there on time. I am lucky and get one of the last tickets, only a few minutes later the event begins.

It starts with a short introduction of the movie called The Monk and the film maker The Maw Naing from Myanmar as well as a reference to the Democracy without Borders initiative from the Swiss Department for Foreign Affairs. Then the room gets dark and the movie starts. The film maker has chosen beautiful photo-like scenes, the rhythm in the country side is perfectly reflected in the slow and calm way of using the camera and by using little dialogue. But he also shows the challenges and the movement of the youth to the big city, the attraction of Yangon for a potentially better life and more opportunities. Which though, not all know to take or find and some get lost in the fast pace of a growing city. Even a young woman breaks up with her traditional role, courageous she ventures into the city to make her way with a business. All the scenes come together in the main leading story about the monk Zawana, the monastery and the future of the monk and the monkhood in general in Myanmar.

At the end of the movie, there is a round table with the film maker, a journalist from the Yangon Times and the Head of Swiss Development Cooperation in Myanmar. It is an interesting discussion around the political and social transformation process in Myanmar and about the future of the country. It is a very open and honest Q&A, the speakers do not shy away to stand the truth – the transformation, the change, will require time but at the same time nobody would wish to turn back the wheel and everybody hopes for a peaceful future for Myanmar. As I am leaving, at the open doors, I grab another spontaneous moment to congratulate the film maker and the journalist in person and thank them for bringing a little bit of Myanmar to Locarno. I am glad and touched. Since my time in Laos, even these pictures from Myanmar feel a little bit like home.

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