The Road To Mandalay
Directed by Midi Z
Sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, Republic of China (Taiwan) and Taiwan Academy in Los Angeles.
Nomination for Hong Kong Film Award Best Chinese Language Film from the Two Coasts, 2017 Hong Kong Film Awards
Midi Z has become the current torchbearer for Taiwan’s arthouse cinema. Born in Myanmar, he moved to Taiwan as a teen, eventually earning a MA in Design at National Taiwan University of Science and Technology. His breakthrough film, ICE POISON (Festival 2014), set the tone for his still burgeoning filmography in exploring the lives of migrant workers who work within the Chinese-Myanmar underground. His characters share a constant theme — people who desire a better life and try to escape harsh economic and social circumstances. They’re the “invisible” people that serve our food, take out our garbage, manufacture our clothes, deal our drugs, all as cogs in the globalization machine.
THE ROAD TO MANDALAY continues these themes, but moves the location to a Southeast Asian clime. The human traffickers have a well-established route: from Burma into Thailand, across the Mekong River at Tchilek, and along quiet country roads. After bribing police at numerous checkpoints to gain entry into Bangkok, the illegal migrants are on their own. Lianqing (Ke-Xi Wu, who has become Midi Z’s unofficial muse, appearing in previous works ICE POISON and POOR FOLK) is one of five illegals who travels this route one summer night in 2013. Along the way, a fellow migrant called Guo (Taiwanese heartthrob Kai Ko in a game-changing performance) shows her kindness, and their fates later become entwined. Once in Thailand, Lianqing finds “underground” jobs, saves money, and discovers where to buy fake identity papers with the hope of making it to Taiwan. But Guo has different ambitions…
After a respite from fiction narratives to work on documentaries set in his hometown including JADE MINERS and CITY OF JADE, THE ROAD TO MANDALAY is perhaps Midi Z’s most polished work to date. As a fellow trans-migrant himself, the director has cornered the stories of other migrant workers in creating a neo-realist Asian oeuvre of the voiceless millions who vacillate between high and low worlds, where the chasm of the poor and the super rich, and the denizens in between, are indicative of the pursuit of happiness. No matter how dark a path one must traverse to attain this goal, many times, the destination is never reached.
— Anderson Le
Community Partner: The Network of Myanmar (Burmese) American Association
Born in Myanmar in 1982, Midi Z arrived in Taiwan at the age of sixteen. He studied design and art before obtaining a master degree from the National Taiwan University of Technology and Science. In 2006, his graduation film, Paloma Blanca, was invited to several festivals such as Busan and Gothenburg. In 2011, Return to Burma, his debut feature, was nominated for the Busan New Currents Competition and Rotterdam Tiger Competition. In 2014, Ice Poison won Best International Film at the Edinburgh Film Festival and represented Taiwan at Foreign Language Oscars.
Producer: Patrick Mao Huang, Midi Z
Director: Midi Z
Writer: Midi Z
Cast: Kai Ko, Wu Ke-xi