Nargis - When Time Stopped Breathing
Kyaw Kyaw Oo, Maung Myint Aung / Burma, Germany / 2009 / 90 min.
It only took Cyclone Nargis 13 hours to ravage the Irrawaddy Delta in Burma in May 2008. During this time, the destructive natural force claimed the lives of 140,000 people, while almost two and a half million were left without a roof over their heads. A week after this catastrophe, a group of Burmese filmmakers set out for the affected areas. Once they got there, they began filming a lyrical and very humane account of the actual situation that prevailed. In the middle of razed villages full of fallen trees, the filmmakers encountered those who were fortunate enough to survive the disaster. Despite the pain of losing their homes and their loved ones, these villagers do not succumb to apathy. They help each other while striving to rebuild their dwellings and continue leading a normal life. "This time, I am building a house away from the five enemies," one young villager says to the camera. According to Buddhist tradition, the five enemies are conflagrations, thieves, hateful people, floods, and rulers. And it was actually the ruling military junta who long hid the full extent of the catastrophe from the world and rejected foreign humanitarian aid, even though it was not capable of supplying the hungry villagers with basic foodstuffs or important lifesaving medicines.