Program Detail

Return To Burma

Midi Z / Burma / Taiwan / 2011 / 84 min / Burmese with English subtitles / Color / HDCAM* / San Francisco Premiere


Xing-hong is a Burmese laborer of Chinese ethnicity who has worked on construction in Taipei for 10 years. Changes in Burma (aka Myanmar) prompt him to return with the ashes of his friend and coworker Rong, who died in Taipei. Back in his home village of Lashio, Xing-hong feels like a stranger in a foreign land. Family, friends and neighbors earn next to nothing. Everyone yearns to save enough money to illegally work abroad: Malaysia, Dubai or China are aspirational destinations. As he travels around his ethnic Chinese district, regaled by uniquely Burmese pop songs (lauding, for example, the government and congressmen for fostering Burma’s push towards “democracy and freedom”), Xing-hong explores work options, asking everyone he meets how little they make. The best prospects, other than going back to work abroad, seem to be the thriving black markets for openly smuggled Chinese goods he finds everywhere.

First-time director Midi Z films the milieu he knows best: like his protagonist, he is an ethnic Chinese who moved from Burma to Taiwan when he was young. His fiction film, while preserving an ultra-realistic documentary feel, is also inspired by classic Taiwanese new wave principles: he uses a largely still camera, with beautifully framed long takes and sequence shots that slowly reveal, with precise intensity, the essential reality of a part of rural Burma at a critical moment of its history.

-Shelly Kraicer Vancouver International Film Festival

Co-presenter: Oakland Asian Cultural Center (3/11)


  • Director: Midi Z
  • Producer: Patrick Mao Huang, Midi Z
  • Cinematographer: Midi Z
  • Writer: Midi Z
  • Editor: Grussy Lin
  • Cast: Shin-Hong Wang, Shu-Lan Yang, Jung-Kuo Chou


March 10, 2012 4:45 pm
SF Film Society Cinema at New People
Tickets not currently on sale

March 11, 2012 8:00 pm
Pacific Film Archive Theater
Tickets not currently on sale

March 14, 2012 6:45 pm
SF Film Society Cinema at New People
Tickets not currently on sale


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