Asia Society New York will present the first U.S. survey of Myanmar-born, Taiwan-based filmmaker Midi Z (b. 1982), a rising talent in international cinema. The series includes all three of the director’s fiction features plus a short film. The director and actress Wu Ke-Xi, a regular of Z’s films, will appear in post-screening discussions.
Z has developed a signature style for his intimate and authentic portraits of people struggling with displacement and poverty on the margins of Myanmar society. Hailing from an ethnic Chinese family in Lashio, a small town in the eastern Shan state, Z draws inspiration from the people he is familiar with in this remote region with a porous border next door to China, Laos, and Thailand. Driven by social and economic hardship, they make ends meet drifting in-between worlds where smuggling and human and drug trafficking are rampant. Compassion and a documentary impulse guide Z’s camera as it quietly observes his characters’ actions and choices in a nonjudgmental manner. Mostly shot guerrilla-style in Myanmar, without official permission, the films also demonstrate formal rigor through meticulously crafted narrative structure and camerawork.
“This film series provides us with the opportunity to examine a rising cinematic voice and to explore how the filmmaker’s unique multicultural background has informed his representation of Myanmar, a country with over 130 officially recognized ethnic groups,” says La Frances Hui, Film Curator, Asia Society.
Born and raised in Myanmar, Z received a scholarship at the age of 16 to attend high school in Taiwan. He later earned a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial and Commercial Design at the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology. In order to cover all his expenses, Z worked as a construction worker, chef, graphic designer, photographer, and commercial director. His college graduation short Paloma Blanca (2006) was selected and presented by acclaimed film festivals including Pusan International Film Festival and Copenhagen Film Festival.
In 2009, he was selected to participate in the Taipei Golden Horse Film Academy under the tutelage of auteur Hou Hsiou-Hsien. Z’s debut feature Return to Burma (2011) was nominated for awards at the International Film Festival Rotterdam and Pusan International Film Festival. He went on to receive a Hubert Bals Fund to make his second feature, Poor Folk (2012).
If these two early features had called attention to Z as an emerging director to watch, his third feature, Ice Poison (2014), established him as a mature cinematic voice with a unique vision. The film premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival, won the Best Film award at the Edinburgh Film Festival, earned Z the Best Director Award at the Taipei Film Festival. The film is lauded in Taiwan as one of the finest films made in recent years.
Tickets: $8 members; $10 students/seniors; $12 nonmembers.
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