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Return to Burma (2011)

Gui lái dí rén (original title)
Shin-Hong Wang has been a Burmese guest-worker in Taiwan, but now there have been elections in his country, he decides it's time to return. During the journey from Rangoon to his birthplace... See full summary »


Midi Z


Midi Z (screenplay)
5 nominations. See more awards »


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Credited cast:
Jiun Lu Jiun Lu
Shin-Hong Wang Shin-Hong Wang


Shin-Hong Wang has been a Burmese guest-worker in Taiwan, but now there have been elections in his country, he decides it's time to return. During the journey from Rangoon to his birthplace, we hear propaganda songs on the radio about the blessings of democracy. When he sees his mother again after 12 years, she asks: 'Have you eaten?' With those same words, the mother of filmmaker Midi Z welcomed her son when he returned in 2008 after an absence of 10 years. In early 2011, soon after the elections, Midi Z went back again. This time he brought his camera, to shoot Return to Burma. Shin-Hong has the sad duty of returning the ashes of a friend who had a fatal accident in Taiwan. But there's also the joy of seeing friends and family. Young people still gather together to sing romantic songs and dream of working in China or even America. Shin-Hong's younger brother is about to leave for Malaysia. Shin-Hong himself would prefer to stay and goes to markets and smuggling centres to see if ...

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References Pulp Fiction (1994) See more »

User Reviews

Nice inside view in current Burma, implicitly showing large differences between cities and villages
28 October 2012 | by JvH48See all my reviews

I saw this film as part of the Rotterdam Film Festival 2012. Before the film started we were told that this is the first feature film ever shot in Burma. A logical question for the final Q&A was about particular problems in making this film. Three challenges were mentioned: (a) censorship, being avoided but I missed the details, (b) crew of only three persons, and (c) emotions when filming in his own home town, making it difficult to stay objective.

The final product can very well be of interest for people from Burma living abroad nowadays, if only to let them see what changed in the mean time. An initial form of democracy is one aspect, but we see and hear only the official promotions around the elections. A second interesting phenomenon is the advent of western style pop music, though a-typical for local folks, yet serving as an explicit escape from the past.

The end result we saw screened has all the appearances of a documentary. The home coming after many years is only a means to an end, namely to show contemporary Burma. For this purpose we see our main character asking about wages and prices, which is the best way to obtain information that is particularly useful when coming from a different country with a much higher standard of living. He was used to wages 10 times as high as what was normal in current Burma.

What struck me most was the difference between the village where our main characters originally came from, compared with the city that was visited at a later stage. For instance, in the village we saw no electric devices, while the city appeared to be full of them. The latter is shown explicitly by visiting a shop that sells micro waves, phones, and more such devices. This discrepancy was certainly relevant for us, living under very different circumstances. We could easily consider it a sightseeing tour in Burma, covering the old ways (the village) as well as the modern ways (the city) next to each other.

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Taiwan | Burma



Release Date:

19 April 2013 (Taiwan) See more »

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Return to Burma See more »

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