The Wathann Film Festival (WFF) is the film festival dedicated to independent and non-commercial films in Myanmar. Started by filmmakers and artists in 2011, at the beginning of the country’s transition period to democracy, it has soon become the main platform for exchange and effectively shares artistic expression. The annual festival offers thematic and curated film screenings of local as well as international independent films. It brings the local and international film community together, not just via the film medium but also through participating filmmakers and curators/programmers from other parts of the world. This fosters an exchange of experiences and builds understanding between countries and societies.
Over time, WFF has become a hub for knowledge sharing and networking amongst local independent filmmakers and artists, living a concept of inclusive and compassionate exchange and support in a very difficult societal and legal environment. The Wathann Film Festival actively supports up and coming young talents through its workshops and also through the annual awards given by an international jury, which is an annual highlight. The “Travelling cinema” format makes the films also available in other areas of the huge country, e.g. in Kachin, Shan, and Mon State. By that, it brings people of the various ethnic groups of the country together and is a rare chance to initiate discussions of contemporary issues within Myanmar.
The audience consists of filmmakers, locals, civil society, youth and also members of the elder generation. It fosters a welcoming environment for any ethnic and religious background (Myanmar hosts over 135 distinct ethnic groups, each having a distinctive history, culture and language). Covering topics as interfaith problems, LGBTIQ, and Myanmar’s military past and present, WFF’s screenings present a unique chance to communicate the pluralistic society via short films and documentaries, which would otherwise not be made available to the public.