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Online Film Festival Spotlights Mental Health Effects of Isolation Amid COVID-19 in Myanmar

1597 The Irrawaddy

The ongoing Snack Film Festival, an online event organized by LOKA Media, 3-ACT and Counseling Corner, was launched on May 18 with an invitation to all aspiring filmmakers to participate in its competition under the highly topical theme of “Isolation”, something many people are grappling with amid COVID-19 restrictions.

The short-film festival aims to put a spotlight on problems associated with isolation amid the COVID-19 epidemic, while demonstrating the links between artistic creation with mental health, offering coping tactics and encouraging creativity among the public.

“Since April, the government has officially required the public to stay at home in order to prevent mass coronavirus infections. Some people are lucky enough to be with their families, but many have to stay alone,” said Ko Aung Pyae Sone, project executive at LOKA.

He added, “Isolation can be difficult to cope with. So, we decided to create a platform where people could capture and showcase their daily lives during stay-at-home [restrictions] to spread awareness about [problems associated with] isolation and encourage creativity during these unprecedented times.”

Contestants can submit their films until June 7. Films must be produced on a mobile phone and cannot be longer than 3 minutes. Participation is open to all, regardless of age.

The competition will be judged by five well-known figures in the cinema arts: actress Academy Swe Zin Htaik; cinematographer and director Mg Mg Thar Myint; Thaid Dhi, the cofounder of Wathann Filmfest; 3-ACT cofounder Moe Myat May Zarchi; and Busan Film Festival curator Kim Young-woo.

On June 10, the festival will announce the top 10 films as selected by the judges. Members of the public can also vote for the People’s Choice Award from June 14-19. A Judge’s Choice Award will also be announced. The winner in each category will receive 1 million kyats (US$711).

“This festival is not only a competition, but also a place to learn more about the film industry, as we will be sharing useful tips. It is a great pleasure to be involved in this festival and support the Myanmar filmmakers’ community as well as spread awareness on an important social issue,” said Academy Swe Zin Htaik.

As part of the festival, online film workshops and discussions will also be held, in which participants can learn from veteran filmmakers. Experts from Counseling Corner will also organize workshops and panel discussions throughout the event allowing participants and the public to get to know more about mental health and support options.

“Humans love social interaction. Although some might enjoy solitude, for many isolation has a negative impact and can cause severe mental issues. However, mental health often carries a stigma and many affected people are too afraid to seek help,” said Dr. Aung Min Thein, the founder of Counseling Corner.

He added, “Thanks to this festival, we hope to raise awareness of isolation’s negative impacts on people’s well-being. Counseling Corner is proud to be a partner of the Snack Film Festival, and we would like to encourage everyone to openly address the issues we face and promote self-awareness and mental fitness.”

IMAGE: An advertisement for the online Snack Film Festiva

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