Asian Cinema Fund 2018

2012 Asian Network of Documentary (AND) Fund

Project Wa State, A Forsaken People
Category DMZ Fund
Project Wa State, A Forsaken People
Director MA Zhandong
Country China, Myanmar
Director's Profile Zhandong MA has been an independent filmmaker since 2001. He has made over ten films and his works have shown in Germany, Holland, Iceland, Hong Kong and China. In 2011 his previous film ONE DAY IN MAY was awarded best documentary at the Chinese Documentary Film Festival in Hong Kong. The film is now a part of the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s permanent collection.
Wa State, A Forsaken People is a character driven feature length documentary shot on HD. The story follows Li Simei as she attempts to keep her family of six alive in Wa State, the poorest state in Burma. Located in northeastern Burma along the infamous Golden Triangle, Wa State is known as the world-leading opium producer. For centuries, Li Simei’s family, like the rest of Wa people, relied on the growth of poppy as it was for her, the only source of income. In 2005, under pressure from the international community, Wa State ceased the growth of poppy and the cultivation of opium. The ban has had dramatic consequences for local communities, driving the Wa people into chronic poverty. Without poppy, Li has nothing else to fall back on since Wa authorities have not provided alternative sources of income for ex-poppy farmers. How will Li and the Wa people be lifted out of their hellish existence?
Director's Note
When the poppy growth ban was announced in early 2005, I was concerned with how this ban will affect the people of Wa State, where 80% of the people are Chinese Burmese. With the help of local farmers, I was able to enter Wa State at a time when entering Burma had been restricted. What I saw was a marginalized, abandoned and forgotten people, mired in destitute, suffering heavily from the ban of poppy growth. They have been forsaken by its own government, by its neighbors, and by the rest of the world. Their stories needed to be told.
Still Cut