Poetry is the most popular art form in Myanmar: most people can recite a poem by heart, many write poems of their own, and with the recent introduction of the internet, there are more online poets than bloggers. Poetry has also helped Burmese people survive the dictatorship.
The film’s main character is 70 year-old poet Maung Aung Pwint, who spent many years behind bars for his writing and activism. His family has been torn apart by the country’s political history: by his own imprisonment and absence from his family, and by the two decade long political exile of his son to Finland. The yearning for his lost son, and his long awaited return home, form the backbone of the film.
Maung Aung Pwint’s story is accompanied by a chorus of poems by the most famous poets in Myanmar today. They all raise a critical voice to the country’s transformation, particularly attentive to enduring injustice.
This injustice is illustrated in a series of cinema verité scenes and stories – the storybook of the film – of the country’s sudden economic and political transformation. A new world where rich young men drag race in downtown Yangon at night, racing past rickshaws and pedestrians for whom such wildly expensive cars are beyond their dreams in this poorest country in South East Asia. A new world that still leaves much past injustice intact: a former political prisoner counsels a cellmate who cannot stand the sound of rain because of its association with his past torture. A minority farmer expresses a persistent fear of the military, for “in Burma, the army is still king.”
In this brave new world of transformation and persistent injustice, the old poet Maung Aung Pwint and his family becomes symbols of resilience and grace, an answer to the poet’s question: “ how can our hearts be healed?”