Review: ‘Return to Burma’

Burma

A Burmese construction worker in Taiwan returns to Myanmar with thoughts of staying put in Midi Z's intriguing though repetitive semiautobiographical debut, "Return to Burma."

A Burmese construction worker in Taiwan returns to Myanmar with thoughts of staying put in Midi Z’s intriguing though repetitive semiautobiographical debut, “Return to Burma.” Shot under the censors’ radar, the digital pic presents a melancholy though not hopeless look at a country whose experiment with elections has done little for a populace seeing few opportunities at home. Tyro helmer over-pushes the constant talk of money, and he’s not quite sure where to end things, but interest remains generally constant and the country’s dearth of representation will ensure some fest life.

 

After years abroad, Wang Xinghong (played by a non-pro actor of the same name) travels back to Myanmar with the ashes of a colleague killed in an industrial accident. On the road to Lahio, in the east, he hears songs extolling the promise of new elections, yet once home he sees nothing to indicate changes are afoot. Wages are impossibly low, cheap Chinese goods flood the market, and everyone plans to emigrate, including younger brother De. Lack of demonstrative affection may be cultural or a thesping problem; tech credits aren’t bad, given the on-the-sly limitations.

Return to Burma

Taiwan-Myanmar

Production

A Seashore Image Prod., Montage Film Prod. production, in association with Flash Forward Entertainment. (International sales: Flash Forward Entertainment, Taipei.) Produced by Midi Z, Patrick Mao Huang. Directed, written by Midi Z.

Crew

Camera (color, DV), Midi Z; editor, Lin Sheng-wen, Midi Z. Reviewed at Rotterdam Film Festival (competing), Jan. 29, 2012. (Also in 2011 Vancouver, Busan, Gothenburg film festivals.) Running time: 84 MIN.

With

Wang Xinghong, Yang Shulan, Chou Jungkuo. (Mandarin, Burmese dialogue)

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