MEMORY! Film Festival 2018
PRESS & DEMOCRACY ON SILVER SCREEN
Nov 10, The Secretariat Yangon
This year’s edition of the Memory! conference series focuses on Press & Democracy.
The topic arrives at a critical historical juncture in which journalists and the media more generally are under siege from multiple angles. Alongside the screenings of classics and modern movies, the conference will explore a series of necessary questions about how journalists, members of the media, artists, filmmakers, bloggers and even everyday social media users can understand today’s mediascape and participate in respectful and democratic exchanges of news and opinions. Not long ago, visions of a networked society held promise for more enlightened politics, expecting that accurate reporting and effortless communication would drive out corruption and deceptions. Yet misinformation, aggressive partisanship, and culture wars that split society by identity rather than class are more prevalent than ever. Much of this drama remains hidden from the regular citizen, who will never truly know what lies behind the scenes of journalism. The common assumption that freedom of the press simply means getting the truth out there is a small part of the complicated processes that journalists must navigate.
This conference aims to pull back the curtain and to bring out into the open a world often hidden from view: the social, political, professional, and personal lives of journalists in search of Truth. These stories are so abstract that they have only been successfully portrayed through film where romanticized heroines and heroes risk everything to bring us even just a tiny step closer to understanding the political and economic systems that run our worlds. Our focus on Press and Democracy (at the Movies) is a cross-disciplinary conversation between film and media scholars, journalists, and activists. Myanmar and international presenters will join us in addressing this topic from a variety of perspectives including case studies, theoretical investigations, problem-oriented arguments, and comparative analyses. Thanks to its interdisciplinary nature, the conference will generate important discussions about the role of Freedom and the function of a Press in Democracies across various historical and geopolitical contexts.
My Journey of Fighting for Press Freedom
U Myat (Sonny) Swe is a pioneer in Myanmar media, with more than 25 years’ experience in the journalism industry. In 2013,U Myat Swe was released from Taunggyi Prison in Shan State after serving more than eight years of a 14-year sentence for allegedly bypassing censorship regulations at The Myanmar Times. He is CEO and Co-founder of Frontier Myanmar Weekly Magazine operated by Black Knight Media Group. In 2000, he co-founded The Myanmar Times, the first Myanmar-foreign joint venture in Myanmar’s media industry, and is also a former CEO of the Mizzima Media Group which published a daily newspaper, a weekly English Magazine, and news websites.
Press under pressure and people’s perspectives towards freedom of expression
Ma Thida is an MD, writer, human rights activist and former prisoner of conscience. A member of the editing board of Burmese magazine “Shwe Amyutay” and bi-weekly journal “Info Digest” Dr. Ma Thida also volunteers at a free clinic run by a local NGO. In October 1993, she was sentenced to 20 years in prison for “endangering public peace, having contact with illegal organizations, and distributing unlawful literature.” In 1999 she was released due to declining health, increased political pressure, and the efforts of organizations like Amnesty International and PEN International. She was awarded several international human rights awards, including the Reebok Human Rights Award (1996), the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award (1996), Freedom of Speech Award (2011) and Vaclav Havel’s Disturbing the Peace and Courageous Writer at Risk Award (2016). From 2008 to 2010, she lived in the US as an International Writers Project Fellow at Brown University and a Fellow of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard University. She was the very first elected president of PEN Myanmar (2013-16) and also elected as a board member of PEN International since 2016.
The Dark Side of the Press in Cinema: Decontextualization, Sensationalism, Entertainment & Fake News
Dr. Howard Besser is Professor of Cinema Studies at New York University (the first Cinema Studies Department in North America). He is also the Founding Director of NYU’s Masters degree in Moving Image Archiving & Preservation, and Professor Emeritus at UCLA’s Library School. He has taught and written about policy impediments that keep films from being seen, and is particularly interested in how copyright, privacy, and censorship are used to inhibit film distribution. In 2009 Besser was named to the Library of Congress’ select list of “Pioneers of Digital Preservation.” He has also been involved in the creation of several library metadata standards (PREMIS, Dublin Core, METS), and has published more than 50 articles dealing with media and information technology in cultural institutions.
Philippine Cinema in the Era of Tokhang (War on Drugs)
Rolando B. Tolentino is a faculty member of University of the Philippines Film Institute and former Dean of the UP College of Mass Communication. He is Director of the UP Institute of Creative Writing where he also serves as fellow. He has taught at the Osaka University, National University of Singapore, and University of California, Berkeley. His research interests include Philippine literature, popular culture, cinema and media, interfacing national and transnational issues. Dr. Tolentino writes and has published books on fiction and creative non-fiction. He is a member of the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino (Filipino Film Critics Group), Altermidya (People’s Alternative Media Network), and Congress of Teachers and Educators for Nationalism and Democracy (CONTEND-UP).
Quo Vadis Freedom of Expression in South East Asia
Eko Maryadi, or affectionately known as Item, is the President of Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) for the 2014-2018 term, an experienced journalist and an Honorary Member of the GIV Board of Advisors. He has served as a member of the International Federation of Journalists Executive Committee and as a President of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) in Indonesia. During the Soeharto era, Item spent three years of his life in jail for having published an underground publication “Independen” with other fellow activists from AJI. Released in 1997, Item has been working for various media organizations, including D&R Magazine, The Washington Post Jakarta Bureau, New York Times, Newsweek, LA Times, ABC TV-Radio Jakarta Bureau, Internews, Kyodo News Service Jakarta Bureau, Knight Ridder, BBC-TV, and Nine Networks TV Australia. He is a fellow of Wee Kim Wee School of Communication, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
Mosaic Democracy: Education Reform Through The Transition
Tin Maung Maung Aye aka Aye-Hardy relocated to the US after he was forced to leave Yangon because of his involvement in the 8888 nationwide uprising in 1989. He attended California Polytechnic University, Pomona and San Diego State University, completing a Masters degree in Computer Science. At the same time he was actively involved in various human rights issues and initiatives around the world particularly in Northern Uganda and Sudan, and chaired the Global Intergenerational Leadership Fora by UNESCO on Comparative Human Rights for 10 years. He worked as a computer scientist for a number of years in the US before returning to Myanmar in late 2014 to setup myME: Myanmar Mobile Education Project (myMEproject.org). He’s currently working closely with the Ministry of Education in supporting and coordinating on the implementation of National Education Strategic Plan 2016-2021.
Tryst with Destiny: Democracy in Recent Indian Cinema
Suresh Chabria taught Political Science at St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, before joining the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune, as Professor of Film Appreciation. He was Director of the National Film Archive of India, during which period he initiated several restorations and programming events showcasing Indian film heritage. He has published several articles on cinema and a book, “Light of Asia: Indian Silent Cinema 1912-1934,” which is a core reference on the subject. Associated with the Film Society movement for more than four decades, Dr. Chabria is best known as a teacher and his short courses and workshops on film appreciation are much sought after. He is on the Advisory Committee of the National Museum of Indian Cinema and the Advisory Board of the Public Service Broadcasting Trust. Semi-retired, professor Chabria continues working as a film historian and teacher. His other interests are painting, photography and far eastern poetry.
Requiem for M and the Right to Filmic Refusal
Kiri Dalena is an acclaimed visual artist and filmmaker known internationally for her works that lay bare the social inequalities and injustices that continue to persist, particularly in the Philippines. Her active involvement in the mass struggle to uphold human rights amidst state persecution is the foundation for her art practice that underscores the relevance of protest and civil disobedience in contemporary society. Dalena’s works are both documentation and critical commentary on historical and current state of national political affairs. “Requiem for M” (2010) tackles one the most brutal murder of journalists in the world – the Maguindanao Massacre – and the culture of impunity that plagues the Philippines. A recipient of the CCP 13 Artists Award (Manila/PH, 2012) and Ateneo Art Awards (Manila/PH, 2009), Dalena has also been featured in several international art events such as the Singapore Biennale (2013), Yokohama Triennale (Yokohama/JP, 2014), Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale (Fukuoka/JP, 2014), and the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (Brisbane/AU, 2015).
9:00-9:30 am: Welcoming Breakfast
9:30-9:45 am: Welcome address followed by Keynote Speaker
9:50-10:05 am: Sonny Swe « My Journey Of Fighting For Press Freedom »
10:10-10:25 am: Ma Thida « Press Under Pressure and People’s Perspectives Towards Freedom of Expression »
10:30-10:45 am: Howard Besser « The Dark Side of the Press in Cinema: Decontextualization, Sensationalism, Entertainment, and Fake News »
10:50-11:05 am: Roland Tolentino « Philippine Cinema in the Era of Tokhang (War on Drugs) »
11:05 am-12:00 pm: Round table discussion and Q&A
2:30-2:40 pm: Intro to second panel
2:45-3:00 pm: Eko Maryadi « Quo Vadis Freedom of Expression in South East Asia »
3:05-3:20 pm: Tim Aye-Hardy « Mosaic Democracy: Education Reform Through The Transition »
3:25-3:40 pm: Suresh Chabria « Tryst with Destiny: Democracy in Recent Indian Cinema »
3:45-4:00 pm: Kiri Dalena « Requiem for M and the Right to Filmic Refusal »
4:00-4:20 pm: Round table discussion and Q&A
4:20 pm: Closing Keynote