by Jim Ridley
The brutal military rule that displaced millions of Burmese citizens may be receding into the past, in the wake of the 2010 elections that swept in a reform government. But outbreaks of sectarian violence remain a threat, as seen in recent reports of bloody clashes between Buddhists and the Rohingya Muslim minority (some of whom have recently found new homes in Middle Tennessee) that triggered a state of emergency in Rakhine state.
The half-hour documentary Crossing Midnight details efforts to help the estimated 1 million people seeking refuge in the Eastern Burmese jungles by someone who knows their plight first-hand: Dr. Cynthia Maung, who escaped the armed suppression of the 1988 student rebellion to form a clinic and compound that has aided internally displaced persons for more than 20 years. Directed by Kim A. Snyder, whose recent doc Welcome to Shelbyville explored tensions in Middle Tennessee between immigrant communities and locals, the film screens at Watkins College of Art, Design & Film, 2298 Rosa Parks Blvd., 6 p.m. tonight as part of the ongoing World Refugee Day celebration.
Tonight’s post-film panel, moderated by WNPT producer Will Pedigo, includes Amy Richardson from the Vanderbilt Institute of Global Health; Carol Etherington, a nurse with Doctors Without Borders; Dr. Morgan Wills from Siloam Family Health Center; and Ye Win, a Burmese refugee and refugee caseworker. The screening is free and open to the public; click here for more details.