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Friday, 19 December 2014

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The Myanmar Times

Film to explore hard life of Myanmar migrants

A team of local filmmakers has cooperated with a Thailand-based nongovernmental organisation in shooting a movie about migrants from Myanmar living and working in Thailand, with plans to release the film early next year.

The film, titled Father’s School, is produced by the Foundation for Education and Development (FED).

It was shot in Phang-nga, Phuket, in southern Thailand, and will premiere in the same region early next year, U Htoo Chit, managing director of the foundation, said at a press conference at Traders Hotel in Yangon on Tuesday, December 18 (International Migrants Day).

The dramatic film is about the lives of Myanmar migrants living in Thailand and their difficulties with education, health and social issues.

The film was directed by Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi, based on a script written by Daw Htoo Htoo Thar. The main actors include Ye Deight, Chit Thu Wai, Kaung Pyae and Thandar Bo.

U Htoo Chit said there are about 4 millions Myanmar migrant workers in Thailand, but most are illegals who do not have passports.

“There are a lot of difficulties in their daily lives. As they are illegal migrants, they don’t have labour rights like others,” he said.

“But businessmen prefer them because they don’t need to pay them as much as other workers. And if they don’t want to pay them anything at all, they can call the police. These workers don’t have any public voice, so I wanted to let everyone know about their lives.”

FED was founded in Thailand in 2000, focusing on the development of awareness about the rights of migrant workers and their families.

Scriptwriter Daw Htoo Htoo Thar said that during her own visits to southern Thailand, she saw firsthand the dangers and difficulties faced by migrants, especially children.

“One of the main themes of my script is child education because most migrant parents think their children don’t need to be educated,” she said.

“They take them out of school at age 12 or 13 because the kids can start working and earn a small amount of money for the family. But the parents don’t understand the long-term effects on their children’s lives.”

She said she worked on the script for about one year while staying in Thailand, and she included many true stories about people she encountered while there.

“Except for the two main actors, all the supporters are based on real characters. I even put U Htoo Chit in the story after I studied his actions, work and deep benevolence for migrants,” she said.

Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi said he was approached by U Htoo Chit about directing the film while visiting Chiang Mai. He added that he did not accept until he had conducted some research into FED.

“After I found out about FED, I decided to shoot the film and donate my directing fees to the foundation. I didn’t read the script even after I accepted the project to make the film, but I was very thankful to get the chance for donating,” he said.

Actors Ye Deight and Chit Thu Wai also donated their acting services to the film, and worked straight through the production period without asking for time off, said Chit Thu Wai, who also serves as a volunteer teacher for the foundation.

“The migrants were so thankful that we shot the film, and they welcomed us very warmly. I worked as hard as I could, and felt it was the least I could do for these families who are living in such difficult situations,” she said.

Father’s School will be screened in cinemas in Myanmar after it is approved by censors, Daw Htoo Htoo Thar said.

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