The international film festival community has condemned Myanmar filmmaker Ma Aeint’s arrest with the Busan International Film Festival and the International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk, along with many others, calling for the Myanmar authorities to release the filmmaker.
The budding filmmaker, who co-wrote and produced Money Has Four Legs, was picked up by authorities in Yangon, Myanmar shortly after leaving home around midday on Saturday, Variety reported. The next day, her family was informed of her arrest, and that she was being housed at an undisclosed place of interrogation.
Aeint’s family has neither been able to communicate with her, nor have they been informed of the reason for her detention.
A regular participant at events intended to promote independent Asian cinema, such as FAMU Summer Filmmaking Initiation Campus, Locarno Open Doors Lab, Ties That Bind, and SEAFIC Open Fair, Aeint’s film was entered into the 2020 Busan International Film Festival, in the New Currents competition section.
BIFF was the first to put out a statement in Aeint’s support, on Tuesday.
“South Korean film festivals take it seriously and are deeply concerned about this issue as she has been lost in communication,” read the statement, which went on to “strongly condemn the ongoing violence in Myanmar” and urge Aeint’s release.
Along with BIFF, this statement was signed by 10 other South Korean film festivals, namely, Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival, Busan International Kids and Youth Film Festival, DMZ International Documentary Film Festival, Gangneung International Film Festival, Jecheon International Music and Film Festival, Jeonju International Film Festival, PyeongChang International Peace Film Festival, Seoul Independent Film Festival, Seoul International Women’s Film Festival, and Ulju Mountain Film Festival.
On Wednesday, the International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk and its founding institutions — namely, the European Film Academy, International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, and International Film Festival Rotterdam — followed suit and put out an urgent call for the release of Aeint.
ICFR’s statement, which called for authorities to “immediately and unconditionally” release the detained filmmaker, was also signed by a number of international festivals and film institutions, including the Berlin International Film Festival, FAMU, Festival de Cannes, German Film Academy, Locarno Film Festival, Sundance Institute, Sydney Film Festival, and Venice Film Festival, to name a few.
Hoping Ma Aeint is safe and returns home soon.🌹 A lovely young enthusiastic producer keen on supporting a Burmese film Industry. Memories of sharing food over lots of laughs at @FilmFestLocarno came back when I read this. Thoughts with distressed family and friends at this time. https://t.co/hlKELDONXF
— Deepti DCunha (@deemelinda) June 9, 2021
We are very concerned for the well-being of Myanmar filmmaker Ma Aeint. We encourage all film and culture institutions to join us in calling upon the Myanmar authorities to immediately and unconditionally release her. 👉https://t.co/cOF64rip6q #FilmmakersatRisk pic.twitter.com/UMGwgcc1aU
— European Film Awards (@EuroFilmAwards) June 9, 2021