A film by Tin Win Naing
2016, 72 minutes
No. 083

Having filmed politically sensitive events such as the Saffron Revolution, Tin Win Naing fled his home country of Myanmar in 2009. The nation's brutal dictatorship had begun sweeping the country, arresting anyone suspected of critiquing the government, and Naing was certain to be targeted. Forced to leave his wife and children behind, Naing crossed illegally into Thailand, where he encountered fellow Burmese refugees who toil as plantation workers in conditions tantamount to slave labour. Theirs is a world of exploitation and danger, but also of solidarity and resilience.

In the work of the best documentary cinematographers, you can feel the person behind the camera transmitting their curiosity, sorrow, or delight. Naing possesses this gift. We experience his sympathy for the migrant children who are sent to work instead of school, and we share his admiration for the parents persevering against adversity. He has an eye for simple pleasures, such as workers celebrating a young couple's wedding, and for expansive images: landscapes, burning crops, the magic hour of the sunset.

Myanmar began a new period of hope in 2010, when stateswoman and democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi was finally released from years of house arrest. Naing returned to his country and his family, but his subjects are still working in Thailand to this day. This beautiful work of deeply compassionate first-person filmmaking is a testament to their struggle for justice.

Official Selection, Toronto Film Festival
Official Selection, Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam

"In Exile is a real modern-day Grapes of Wrath."
- NonFics