Myanmar comedian and activist visits Penh

Myanmar comedian and activist visits Penh

111223_03b
Zarganar was in Phnom Penh this week for a screening and Q+A .

The Myanmar comedian and former political prisoner Zarganar started his three-day trip to Cambodia in the capital’s Meta House on Wednesday, meeting local and international filmmakers to learn more about documentary film production.

According to Nicolaus Mesterharm, German filmmaker and founder of the Meta House, “It’s a research trip.”

“Zarganar is thinking of producing a film with young Burmese film makers and as Meta House is running a film school he wanted to visit us and learn about our programmes and how we actually manage these kinds of film projects.”

On December 31, Zarganar plans to start a five day ‘Freedom Film Festival’ in Yangon, giving local and foreign filmmakers the chance to screen their work.

Last night, Zarganar presented a selection of short films from other Myanmar filmmakers at Meta House, and participated in a Q and A session.

The famous comedian is a fierce critic of the Myanmar government. “I think that art and politics should be mixed and combined. I’d like to push that trend,” he said.

He has recently been granted his first ever passport, thus enabling him to go abroad for the first time in his life. “I’d like to share my experience with all of my friends back in Myanmar,” Zarganar said.

Having studied dentistry, he said he prefers being a comedian. “As a dentist I can open one mouth. As a comedian, I can open many mouths,” he said.

Zarganar is the first Myanmar activist to come to Meta House. “People believe in him, people think he’s an honest fighter for the improvement of Human Rights in Myanmar,” Mesterharm said.

Born as Thura in 1961, Zarganar started working with several theatre, dance and comedy groups in college. After graduating he performed full time as a comedian under the pseudonym Zarganar – “tweezers” in English.

After making political jokes, which ridiculed and criticised the Myanmar regime, Zarganar was imprisoned three times and spent a total of eight years in prison. In 2006 he was banned from performing publicly. His last conviction came in June 2008, following criticism and jokes about the government’s mismanagement after devastating Cyclone Nargis.

Sentenced to 59 years, which was later reduced to 35 years, he was freed during the government’s mass release of prisoners in October 2011.

According to Mesterharm, both foreigners and locals have a strong interest in Myanmar, and Meta House is keen to maintain the contact with Zarganar after his visit.

MOST VIEWED

  • Proof giants walked among us humans?

    For years a debate has waged about whether certain bas relief carvings at the 12th-century To Prohm Temple, one of the most popular attractions at the Angkor Wat Temple Complex in Siem Reap province, depicted dinosaurs or some rather less exotic and more contemporary animal,

  • Japan bank buys major stake in ANZ Royal Bank

    Japan's largest bank acquired more than half of ANZ’s shares in Cambodia on Thursday, according to a statement from Kith Meng’s Royal Group. Japan's JTrust Bank, announced that they had acquired a 55% of stake in ANZ Royal Bank. According to a Royal Group

  • Long way to go before Cambodia gets a ‘smart city’

    Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang will struggle to attain smart city status without adopting far reaching master plans, according to officials tasked with implementing the program. The brainchild of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the smart city program seeks to link up

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty