Artists demand boycott of film appearing to disguise ties to Myanmar military-linked company

A film initially produced four years ago by a company co-owned by Min Aung Hlaing’s daughter is rebranded for release under a newly registered entity believed to be its proxy

Anti-coup activists and artists have called for the boycott of a soon-to-be released film produced by the alleged proxy of a film production company partly owned by junta chief Min Aung Hlaing’s daughter.

A Chein Lon Moe, translated as “Belated Rain” in Burmese, is a thriller directed by Nay Hein and features actors Nay Toe and Moe Hay Ko as leads. It is scheduled to hit local cinemas on September 22. 

SM Winner Entertainment, which produced the film, kicked off promotions this week with a premium advanced showing on Tuesday.

The film began pre-production in 2019 under 7th Sense, a film company co-owned by Min Aung Hlaing’s daughter, Khin Thiri Thet Mon and three other associates, including San Ko Ko Tint San, the son of notorious former sports minister Tint San, who is widely known as San Ko.

The current production company, SM Winner, appeared on Myanmar’s corporate registry in March, with two individuals—Aye Myat Mon Maung and Khin Thu Thu Win—listed as directors. The latter says publicly on her Facebook that she works at Myanmar Media Seven which was co-owned by two of Khin Thiri Thet Mon’s associates at 7th Sense: Wai Min Maung and Naing Phyo Kyaw. 

Wai Minn Maung is the head of operations at 7th Sense, and his co-founder Naing Phyo Kyaw is in charge of the company’s finance and marketing department. Naing Phyo Kyaw is also the vice president of Green Circle Company, which produces VeVe beverages in Myanmar.

Further information about SM Winner’s other director, Aye Myat Mon Maung, was not available at the time of reporting. 

Belated Rain initially had a different title in 2019 but the cast and main crew, including the film’s director and director of photography, remain the same, according to a promotional poster released at that time. It is based on a story written by San Ko, with the scriptwriters identified as M.Noe and Mel Khine. 

The 7th Sense Film Production Company’s directors, left to right: Wai Minn Maung, Khin Thiri Thet Mon, San Ko Ko Tint San and Naing Phyo Kyaw at a press conference in Yangon on July 2, 2019 (7th Sense Creation)

In the wake of the 2021 military coup, M.Noe quit the project and demanded that his name be removed from the film credits amid boycott campaigns targeting military-affiliated film companies such as 7th Sense. 

His co-writer Mel Khine remained with the project and a freelance writer, Phyo Thinzar Kyaw, a lecturer at the National University of Arts and Culture in Yangon, also came on board.

Lead actor Nay Toe in the film is a long time collaborator with 7th Sense, and the production’s highest-paid contracted actor. 

Belated Rain is not the first film affiliated with 7th Sense to have reportedly changed production companies. Another film, Vein of Love, was advertised as having been produced by 7th Sense in late 2019, but emerged in cinemas in July and August this year under a different company called Sone Mhat Film Production. The executive producer for “Vein of Love” was Khin Thiri Thet Mon’s business associate Wai Minn Maung.

Wai Minn Maung was not available for comment at the time of reporting.

The promotional poster for Vein of Love, produced by Sone Mhat
Film Production; its executive producer is a business associate of junta chief’s daughter Khin Thiri Thet Mon

Many anti-junta strike groups, including San Chaung Strike, called for the boycott of both films.

Following the Covid-19 pandemic and the military coup, cinemas nationwide have shuttered without regular moviegoing customers. Many filmmakers have ceased their work in the country under military rule, forced into exile. 

Writer M.Noe told Myanmar Now that many junta-allied entertainment companies had benefited from the recent struggles of the local cinema industry and were conspiring to launch “a normalisation campaign” during the political crisis. 

“People might go to cinemas and pay a few thousand kyat hoping they can be in air-conditioned rooms for two to three hours during electricity blackouts. Film censorship is also coming back, just like in 1988,” he said, referring to an earlier period in Myanmar’s long fight against military dictatorship.  

“Metaphorically speaking, any film or TV series that passes the [junta’s censorship] system will be like a rotten bone fed to starving dogs—nothing more than that,” he said. 

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