Lynn Lynn’s Journey From Rocker to Dissecting Myanmar’s Coup in Film

Lynn Lynn’s Journey From Rocker to Dissecting Myanmar’s Coup in Movie

Lengthy earlier than he turned an award-winning filmmaker, Lynn Lynn was already a star.

His voice was ubiquitous on the radio, belting out rock songs, and he performed sold-out reveals in stadiums throughout the nation. In every single place he went, followers hounded him for selfies and autographs.

However all that fame was confined to Myanmar, a rustic he needed to flee after a February 2021 army coup.

It wasn’t solely his lyrics concerning the struggling of individuals beneath army rule that had made him a goal of the nation’s generals. He was additionally near the nation’s now-imprisoned civilian chief, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, having as soon as served as her bodyguard.

Now residing within the Thai metropolis of Mae Sot, bordering Myanmar, the 39-year-old rocker has taken on a brand new identification: refugee.

Regardless of the drastic modifications in his circumstances, he has not given up on artwork, however he has modified his focus: to movie.

His first quick film, “The Starting,” whose foremost characters are a fictional group of individuals from Myanmar, focuses on the significance of fine will in constructing a democratic nation. 5 months later, he adopted with “The Means,” which captures the trauma and despair of a household affected by a nation’s battle; regardless of the darkish themes, the film is a musical — the primary by a director from Myanmar.

Each movies have gained a number of honors at worldwide movie festivals, with “The Means” additionally incomes a number of accolades for its soundtrack.

“I need to give the message that the army junta can oppress an artist bodily, however the spirit and artwork can’t be oppressed,” Mr. Lynn Lynn stated, talking from his spartan music studio, a bed room in a rented home in Mae Sot.

Mr. Lynn Lynn’s life story has been formed by his nation’s convulsive latest historical past, shifting from dictatorship to democracy to the present-day resistance.

The youngest of 4 boys, he was born within the metropolis of Mandalay to a railway employee father and a mom who stayed at residence.

When he was 5, he noticed shut at hand the brutality of the military whose leaders dominated the nation: troopers pulling passengers from a ship and commanding everybody — no matter age — to kneel. That scene of dominance and humiliation, he says, has stayed with him all through his grownup life.

As a 9-year-old, he taught himself the best way to play guitar. After highschool, he moved to Yangon, the capital on the time, the place he cycled by way of a collection of jobs, together with bus conductor and safety guard, whereas making an attempt to begin a musical profession.

His large break got here in 2001, after he walked right into a recording studio to drop off his demo tape and was quickly employed to compose songs for a few of Myanmar’s most well-known singers. He established a repute for composing authentic songs, a rarity in a rustic the place practically all of the songs have been copied from overseas.

In 2007, he marched each day with the nation’s monks throughout the Saffron Revolution protests. He learn time and again “Freedom From Concern,” a guide of essays by Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, on the time the chief of the nation’s opposition, who was beneath home arrest.

He discovered the best way to navigate the nation’s censors. Out of each 5 songs submitted, he was instructed to alter the lyrics of three. Typically, he submitted totally different lyrics after which later swapped again within the authentic phrases, with out anybody seeming to note.

“He’s a insurgent,” stated his spouse, Chit Thu Wai, a well known actress and singer.

In 2008, Mr. Lynn Lynn launched “Assume,” an album with love songs that he had written initially for different singers. It was an instantaneous hit and catapulted him to stardom.

In 2011, the army initiated a spread of sweeping political modifications, together with releasing Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, who convened a gathering of the nation’s artists at her home.

There, Mr. Lynn Lynn instructed the Nobel Peace Prize winner he can be prepared to do something for her. He turned one in every of her bodyguards throughout the 2012 by-election and the 2015 common election.

After she gained in 2015, turning into the nation’s civilian chief, Mr. Lynn Lynn returned to music. In a position to sing overtly concerning the generals, he launched an album referred to as “The Fourth Revolution.”

Then, in February 2021, two months after Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi gained the 2020 election in a landslide, the army detained her and introduced it had taken energy in a coup.

The junta charged dozens of actors and musicians, together with Mr. Lynn Lynn and his spouse, with “incitement.” After months in hiding, the household determined reluctantly to go away Myanmar.

Mr. Lynn Lynn went first in August 2021, trekking throughout a jungle after which swimming to Mae Sot. Ms. Chit Thu Wai and their twin daughters, now 6, adopted every week later.

Mr. Lynn Lynn had by no means wished to make films in Myanmar. Whereas he dabbled in script writing and supported unbiased filmmakers by way of a manufacturing firm he owned along with his spouse, he thought-about a lot of the films made in Myanmar to be too lowbrow to a lot curiosity him.

He says he turned to movie partially to “problem” his creative friends again residence, a lot of whom enable the generals to make use of them for propaganda.

Myanmar’s Directorate of Public Relations and Psychological Warfare has all the time exploited actors and actresses, utilizing them in movies to painting troopers as honorable heroes. In return for staying silent, these celebrities take pleasure in perks, like being paid to attend galas such because the Myanmar Academy Awards.

Mr. Lynn Lynn says he has seen that the timing of those superstar occasions typically coincides with studies about extra army atrocities. Almost each week brings horrific information: 100 useless in an airstrike. Bombs dropped at an out of doors live performance. Eleven youngsters killed at a college.

Halfway by way of an interview in Mae Sot, Mr. Lynn Lynn lifted up his T-shirt to disclose his again. In neat, cursive script, there have been 700 tattooed names and ages of a few of these killed within the coup’s aftermath.

Aung Myint, 32. Tun Win Han, 25. Khin Myo Chit, 7.

“There are such a lot of extra to return,” Ms. Chit Thu Wai stated.

Mr. Lynn Lynn says he seems on the names within the mirror to “compel a way of urgency upon my consciousness.” The Help Affiliation for Political Prisoners, a rights group, stated greater than 4,000 folks had been killed in Myanmar because the coup.

Mr. Lynn Lynn knew that taking pictures films in Mae Sot, so near Myanmar, was harmful. Seventeen of 20 solid members of “The Means” stood accused of “incitement,” they usually feared Myanmar army’s spies have been in every single place, elevating issues they could possibly be kidnapped or killed.

Within the film, members of the central household sing about their affected by battle and their quest for peace and justice. Myanmar is rarely explicitly talked about as a result of, Mr. Lynn Lynn says, he needs the story to be common.

Two weeks earlier than the shoot, he was nonetheless undecided how he would pull it off with out the delicate tools sometimes wanted to make a movie. He determined to borrow a pal’s iPhone 13 Professional to make use of because the digicam. For the music, he gave himself a crash course in sound mixing.

Mr. Lynn Lynn’s solid members had by no means acted earlier than, however some had backgrounds much like the tales that he wished to depict. His directorial recommendation was to learn the script and “really feel it in your coronary heart,” recalled Aung Lun, one of many actors, who had left his 5-year-old son and spouse behind in Myanmar when he fled in 2021.

Mr. Aung Lun’s character in “The Means” leaves his child daughter at a college as troopers set fireplace to their village. Years later, his character confesses that secret to his household.

Throughout that scene, Mr. Aung Lun cried so arduous the crew needed to pause the shoot for an hour.

As Mr. Lynn Lynn waits to listen to whether or not he and his household could be resettled in the US, he has extra movie tasks within the works, together with a satire set in Myanmar earlier than the coup.

Wherever he finds himself, he intends to maintain making movies.

“I need to use a language understood by your complete universe,” he stated. ”I need to present that even whereas we’re on the run, our artwork will proceed to stay powerfully.”

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