International Filmmakers Call for the Release of Myanmar Director Shin Daewe

The International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk (ICFR) and the European Film Academy have called for the immediate release of imprisoned Myanmar filmmaker Shin Daewe. The International Film Festival Rotterdam and the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam also joined the call that Myanmar authorities “immediately and unconditionally” release the documentary director.

Daewe was arrested at a bus station in Yangon on Oct. 15 after soldiers found a filming drone in her luggage. On Jan. 10, in a closed trial in which she was not allowed legal representation, a military tribunal found Daewe guilty under the country’s counterterrorism laws of funding and assisting terrorists and sentenced her to life in prison.

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Myanmar has been under the rule of a repressive military dictatorship since military forces seized power in a bloody coup Feb. 1, 2021, and began a human rights crackdown. As a director, Daewe focused on the social and political issues in her country. She contributed to the documentary Burma VJ, which was nominated for a European Film Award in 2009. Her documentary short Now I Am 13, which depicts the struggles of a teenage girl from central Myanmar deprived of educational opportunities due to poverty, took best documentary at the 2014 Wathann Film Festival and the Silver Award at the Kota Kinabalu International Film Festival. Other works include An Untitled Life (2008) and A Bright Future (2009).

As a student, Daewe was involved in protests and was jailed for one month in 1990 and for one year in 1991 for her involvement in demonstrations.

In an open letter, the ICFR said it “stands with Shin Daewe and all those in Myanmar who stand up for their basic human rights and the freedom of expression and call on the Myanmar authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Shin Daewe.” The ICFR called on film and cultural institutions around the world to do the same and to share the link to Daewe’s short film Now I Am 13.

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