Screenshot from Myanmar documentary, Missing Puzzle, by Hein Htwe Maing.(Photo: Supplied)
A documentary depicting the life of a Myanmar drag queen is up for an award at the country’s biggest independent film festival.
Missing Puzzle was created by local filmmaker Hein Htwe Maung. It profiles the life of Pyae, who lives in Myanmar’s commercial hub, Yangon.
‘It depicts a very hard working gender queer individual,’ Hein Htwe Maung told Gay Star News. ‘Who’s assistant manager by day, drag queen by night and English tutor on weekends’.
The 20-minute film is up for the Best Documentary Award at the Wathann Filmfest this weekend. The city’s colonial-era Waziya cinema will publicly screen the film on Saturday.
Gay sex is still illegal in Myanmar under Section 377 of the colonial-era penal code. It’s the same British legislation India finally dismantled this week.
Although the law is rarely enforced in Myanmar, LGBTI residents face huge stigma and discrimination.
‘The protagonist’s story resembles a lot of my own and many others of Myanmar’s queer community’, said director Hein Htwe Maung. ‘I hope this film sheds a light on the issue.’
Hein Htwe Maung profiles Pyae and his/her relationship with his/her mother and father. He also said family love is what LGBTI most crave in Myanmar. ‘This is South East Asia. Family is everything to us’.
The documentary shows Pyae’s hardworking life in the city. It goes on to explore Pyae’s love and dedication to his/her parents.
‘Yet there is one missing piece of a puzzle that he/she wants in order to have his/her version of perfect life,’ explains Hein Htwe Maung.
Furthermore, it depicts Rangoon Nicki’s transformation into an award-winning drag queen. ‘I like who I become and I feel liberated when I become a drag queen’, Rangoon Nicki says in the documentary.
Rangoon Nicki also explains where the name comes from, in case you’re wondering. ‘I got a big ass so everyone called me Nicki Minaj’ he/she says.
Hein Htwe Maung produced his film through an LGBTI film-making project, Rainbow Reels.
LGBTI film festival &PROUD and LGBTI group Colors Rainbow organizes this yearly film making workshop. It helps young queer film makers from Myanmar to produce original content.
Myanmar’s mainstream film industry often ridicules LGBTI characters for cheap laughs. Rainbow Reels and LGBTI filmmakers are working hard to better represent the community.
‘A real representation of our life, our feelings and our voices, need to be seen and heard by the public’ said Hein Htwe Maung.
Earlier this year, &PROUD organized the country’s first public LGBT pride event.