This is not a movie review. Spoilers ahead.
My favorite film genre is tragedy: separated lovers, unrequited love, death, broken families, missing pets, solitude, depression, and whatever that makes the heart heavy–but not so much that I would cry.
I’ve watched Aung Ko Latt‘s ‘Kayan Beauties‘–my first Myanmar film. This is a cultural movie about the Kayan people–not Padaung, okay? Four village girls went to the city to sell their goods. One of them is Mu Yan, a lass who’s a first-timer in the city. Mu Yan was taken by human traffickers and the other girls did their best to find and rescue the damsel in distress.
The three were able to locate the human traffickers but not Mu Yan. By the time the Kayan girls and the police caught the suspects, Mu Yan is already on her way to Thailand where she will be a part of a “human zoo”–where long neck women are exploited to become tourist attractions.
I was expecting a happy ending–hoping that Mu Yan will be rescued because she’s too young, too innocent to experience such misfortune. She just wanted to see the city and flaunt her neck rings, yet what she saw was a place with no stars during nighttime, a place where people are considered as objects, a place where belongingness is a privilege.
During Aung Ka Lott’s Q&A, a grandpa asked him why he ended his film “with uncertainty”. The director said he made the conclusion sad to tell to the world that this happens–this harsh thing is a reality. Human trafficking is there and people suffer because of it. Then the grandpa said, “for me, you made the ending sad because you want people to be sensitive”.
There, the needle that pricked my heart. Indeed, it made me sensitive. During the parting scene of Mu Yan–hands tied beside her captor, she was crying while singing a traditional song about the Kayan people being unafraid even if they’re alone–I wished the car she’s in will stop. I wished that the movie is not tragic. I wished that this kind of abuse only happens on-screen.
Couples break, families shatter, and people die: these happen everyday–too normal to be heavy for me. That there are people like Mu Yan–innocent, young, hopeful–who see hell everyday, that’s unacceptable. For people to experience inhumanity because of other people, that is hard to take. It is beyond tragedy what victims of human trafficking are experiencing. Reality is beyond the movie. Today my senses were shattered by a crying girl, by the sombre truth that this world is sometimes ugly.
“Hollywood creates movies for the eyes. South East Asians, we create movies from the heart to the heart.” – Aung Ka Lott