Ghosts on film

Burma changes its tune on the supernatural.

by Jennie Kermode

You would probably expect heavy censorship in a country like Burma, but you might not expect it to manifest the way it does. This month, films about ghosts will be shown in the country's crumbling cinemas for the first time in decades. They have been banned since the Sixties as they were deemed too frightening.

Belief in ghosts and spirits is still commonplace in Burma and factions within its government have tried to discourage superstition, with most films of the past few decades being military dramas or slapstick comedies. Now everything is changing and part of this seems to be down to filmmakers themselves, approaching supernatural themes in new ways. Actress Kunn Sint Naychi told the Myanmar Times today that the film she stars in, Mile Post 26, isn't intended to be scary but is intended to highlight the feelings of victims of crime. In the film, the spirits of a mother and daughter persecute their murderer to ensure he is brought to justice.

While Naychi's serious approach extends to talking about how the crew encountered ghosts during filming, other Burmese filmmakers have approached the subject in a more lighthearted way. A string of short comedies involving mischievous spooks are being circulated online and in the country's thriving semi-legal DVD market.

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