Behind the Screen

A son dissects his parents’ marriage – they were film icons in 1960s Myanmar. It turns out the heartrending scenes they acted out on the silver screen are a pretty accurate reflection of their real lives. While the camera slides across the glamorous photos from their heyday, the filmmaker looks on, entranced. He grapples with the incredible fame of his parents. Now that he is reconstructing their relationship, he sees the old film footage through different eyes – as if it might contain the answers he didn’t get as a child, when his parents separated. This merging of family history and film excerpts creates a magical mix of fact and fiction, or – as the son calls it – “the real and the celluloid wedding.” The son’s public revelation of how things went wrong is an emancipatory act, as divorce is still a big taboo in Myanmar. But the filmmaker doesn’t publically jump onto the barricades. Rather, he keeps things personal, showing the pain caused by the divorce, both for him as a child and for his parents. He also shows how, 50 years ago, ambitions in Myanmar in the area of film were in line with Hollywood: the first film his parents appeared in together was called Sweet Sixteen.

Born in Yangon in 1970, Aung Nwai Htway studied law before taking a Forever Group course in editing and subsequently joining the NGO Population Services International (PSI) as an assistant editor. He began attending workshops run by the non-profit organisation Yangon Film School (YFS) in 2006 and in 2007 and tried his hand at directing for the first time with the short documentary ‘A Piece of Eden’ about a young boy suffering from muscular dystrophy. He has since made numerous short documentaries and commercials for the development sector including a short film ‘Trying to Escape’ about a sex worker. Developed as a YFS project over several years, his latest film ‘Behind the Screen’ is also his most personal, since it tells the painful story of his parents’ divorce, both of whom were Burmese film stars in the 1960s and 70s. Behind the Screen (Burmese version) won the Best Documentary Award at the 2012 Wathann Filmfest in Yangon.
Country
Myanmar
Year
2012
Length
35'
Original Language
Burmese
Directed By
Aung Nwai Htway
Produced by
Lindsey Merrison
Edited by
Aung Nwai Htway
Sound
Aung Nwai Htway
Score
Aung Nwai Htway
Camera
Aung Nwai Htway and others
Contact Info
Yangon Film School e.V.,
Alexandrinenstr. 2-3, 2.HH., Aufgang B, 10969
Berlin, Germany

Email: merrison@yangonfilmschool.org
Website: yangonfilmschool.org