More than 1000 people gathered at the Institut Français de Birmanie on the night of March 19 for an event described as historic.
As the sun set over Yangon, a projector showed images that could have been prohibited just a matter of years ago: the real struggles and successes of everyday Myanmar people.
The Yangon Photo Night, part of the 8th Yangon Photo Festival, displayed 21 photo-stories by amateur and professional photographers from all across the country.
“This edition is very special as it is the first time the night is dedicated almost entirely to Myanmar photographers,” said artistic director of the Yangon Photo Festival Christophe Loviny.
“When we started eight years ago there were almost no photojournalists in Myanmar because it was just wasn’t allowed.”
The judging panel looks over professional and amateur entries.The judging panel looks over professional and amateur entries.
Times have certainly changed. Throughout the night, photo after photo confronted, confounded or simply entertained the crowd. This was Myanmar at its most raw.
One photo-series documented the plight of a group of Rohingya-whom are one of the most persecuted people on earth. Another illustrated a community in the grips of a drug addiction crisis. Several provided in-depth coverage of various internal conflicts.
There were stories of nuns, stories of elephants and stories of actors who portray villains in Myanmar’s fledgling film industry (apparently they often get mistaken for real-life villains after leaving the set).
For the first time, almost all the entrants were local.For the first time, almost all the entrants were local.
Minzayar Oo won first prize in the professional photographer category for his photo-story on jade miners in Hpakant.
“People need to know what’s happening down there to the miners,” he told The Myanmar Times, adding that the industry itself required much more investigation.
Recently, international NGO Global Witness found that Myanmar’s jade industry was worth up to US$31 billion in 2014 alone – equivalent to nearly half the GDP for the whole of Myanmar – but hardly any of the money is reaching ordinary people or state coffers.
Minzayar added that it was a “very exciting time” for his country and that photography is more important than ever. “We have to document this change,” he said.
The 8th Yangon Photo Festival will continue to run at venues across the city until March 31.
For more information visit www.yangonphoto.com.
Note: Changes have been made, Myanmar Times is not responsible for these.
Source: Myanmar Times