Festival Hit 'Ice Poison' Presents a Myanmar Tourists Never See
New York moviegoers have a rare opportunity to see a new feature film from Myanmar in the week ahead when Asia Society and the Tribeca Film Festival co-present Ice Poison, the third feature by Myanmar-born, Taiwan-based director Midi Z.
An unsparing look at the lives of Myanmar's underclass, Ice Poison tells the story of a struggling young farmer who pawns his cow for a moped and looks to earn a living as a taxi driver. Among his first fares is a woman who has returned home for her grandfather's funeral and is making a new start after fleeing an arranged marriage in China. Together, the pair get drawn into one of the few lucrative business opportunities available in the area: peddling "ice poison" (crystal meth) around town. Both protagonists are ethnic Chinese from Myanmar, so the director — an ethnic Chinese born and raised in Myanmar — is portraying a community he knows from the inside.
Myanmar is much in the news lately for its democratic and economic reforms, but Z's film depicts lives far removed from those kinds of headline developments. "As a tourist, you can visit Myanmar one time or 100 times," the director told the Wall Street Journal, but "you will never see the real Myanmar because you are shielded."
"Made up of multiple meticulously-paced long, static takes, this film observes the trajectory of its characters with unusual discipline and is a tour de force of form," says Asia Society Film Curator La Frances Hui. "The film brings to the screen the little-known ethnic Chinese community in Myanmar and the notorious drug trade. With his unique vision and perspective, Midi Z has proved himself a filmmaker to watch."
Critics who saw Ice Poison at the Berlin Film Festival this February second Hui's endorsement. Variety called it "simple, direct, and involving ... consistently interesting and stimulating," and The Hollywood Reporter found it to be Midi Z's "strongest to date."
Asia Society and the Tribeca Film Festival are offering four screenings of Ice Poison in Manhattan. Click on the dates below for theater locations and other details.
Thursday, April 17
Friday, April 18
Sunday, April 20
Tuesday, April 22
Video: Ice Poison trailer (1 min., 22 sec.)
Ice Poison isn't the only film being co-presented this year by Asia Society and the Tribeca Film Festival. The two organizations are also joining forces for the U.S. premiere of Vara: A Blessing (Bhutan, 2013), the story of a young Hindu woman's journey into adulthood. Screenings will be held in Manhattan on the following dates:
Monday, April 21
Tuesday, April 22
Friday, April 25
Saturday, April 26