Anger persists over film ban

Nay Pyi Taw cinema in downtown Yangon

The film censorship board had said it banned the screening of a love story between an Austrian woman and a Shan prince over fears it could derail the peace process and damage the Tatmadaw’s image.

Austrian filmmaker Sabine Derflinger’s "Twilight Over Burma: My Life as a Shan Princess" is set in mid-20th century Burma and tells the true story of Inge Eberhard (now Sargent) and her marriage to a Shan prince who was arrested in the wake of the 1962 military coup before dying in mysterious circumstances.

The film was supposed to be screened at the opening night of the Human Dignity International Film Festival in Yangon this week.

“This act is very ugly under a civilian government. The new information minister clearly doesn’t understand the film. The censorship board remains the same as under the previous government. It shows that there is no freedom for filmmakers. My film on “A Letter to the President” was banned. Those responsible for this decision should be held accountable and the information minister should clarify why the film was banned," said Waing, a film director.

The ban comes as a disappointment to the budding film community, where there were hopes of a new era of artistic freedom.

“One scene should have been cut and the rest shown to the people. The image of the  new government has fallen among the public. This film is based on a true story and banning it means denial of the truth,” said Sai Nyunt Lwin, general secretary of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy.

The story is about Sao Kya Seng, prince of Hsipaw, and how after the marriage they returned to live in autonomous Shan State in 1953. Eberhard immersed herself in the Shan lifestyle, learning the language, culture and history. She worked with her husband to bring change and modernisation but the 1962 coup shattered their idyllic existence. It tries to detail the overthrow of one of Burma's most popular regional leaders.