The naked truth of Myanmar, a portrait of U Win Tin

The naked truth of Myanmar, a portrait of U Win Tin

A word from the filmmaker

The film is an initiative of DVB’s deputy executive director Khin Maung Win and myself. We came to the conclusion that, although U Win Tin gave thousands of interviews, his complete life-story was never filmed. It took me more than a year to get funding, but in December 2013 I could travel to Rangoon to make the film.

After a long talk, I convinced Win Tin to co-operate with the film project. My argument was: you’re writing your memoires, and I’ll make the documentary that should accompany your autobiography. After this meeting my cameraman and I could come to his small house whenever we wanted. We filmed him sleeping, eating, his weekly massage, and during his talks with friends, colleagues and foreign guests.

All the time he was remarkably strong of mind. During the ten hours of interviews, both in English and in Burmese, he was sometimes frustrated because he couldn’t remember some specific dates straight away but I was impressed by his superb memory and by the fact that he remembered so many details.

As a filmmaker, you also want to catch some emotion of your main character. Win Tin, however, avoided getting emotional during the interview. Still, on two occasions I could feel he was moved: when he spoke about the death of Aung San Suu Kyi’s father, Aung San; and when he told me he could not forgive the man who put him in jail for such a long time. I think it was the injustice of these events that made him angry.

For me, the film tells a story of a strong and independent mind – a man who dared to say “no”, when all others said “yes”. A man who liked to be alone sometimes, but also appreciated the company of the many friends he made during his life. From time to time, he was a little bit obstinate and rebellious, but it’s this kind of person that makes it all more interesting, I think.

When I showed the film to Win Tin in the hospital in March, he said, “A bit short, but adequate and sometimes beautiful” – a big compliment from a distinguished colleague.

I will miss my uncle from Burma, because I would have liked to show him that many journalists and filmmakers will continue to work for better journalism in his country. He would have liked that.

–Kay Mastenbroek

 

 

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