Above and Below the Ground depicts the Indigenous women activists and punk rock pastors leading Myanmar’s first country-wide environmental movement. When the Myanmar army and a Chinese corporate giant force Indigenous Kachin people off their ancestral land to build the massive Myitsone Dam, grandmother Lu Ra stands her ground. We see her struggle to save the sacred confluence and build a movement, mentoring young female law student Hkawn Mai. A Kachin punk rock band made of pastors, BLAST, also takes action, transforming their love songs into protest anthems. Our film follows these individuals through their journey of activism, from their underground beginnings during Myanmar’s military junta rule, to supposed “democratic” reforms and a sudden military coup. During such periods of fledgling democracy and dictatorship–in Myanmar and globally–our film asks how ordinary people can use the power of music, community organizing and women’s leadership to challenge authoritarianism. (A production of Rhiza Collective In Association with Ethnocine Collective. Directed by Emily Hong; Produced by Maggie Lemere, Ja Nang Tsen, and Emily Hong)
This program is presented in partnership with the Graduate Education and Training in Southeast Asia (GETSEA). The in-person portion of GETSEA’s Simulcast Film Screening of Above and Below the Ground will be held at the University of Hawaii-Manoa, where Director Emily Hong and Producer Maggie Lemere will hold a discussion following the screening. Twenty other universities will screen the film simultaneously and join the discussion via Zoom.
For more information about the GETSEA and full list of sponsors/screening locations, visit http://bit.ly/GETSEASimulcast.