May 27, 2008 / 4:26 AM / 11 years ago

Myanmar film industry takes on cyclone disaster

A damaged home lies near the town of Dedaye in Myanmar's Irrawaddy Delta in this picture taken over the weekend, May 2008. REUTERS/Stringer

YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar’s military rulers have been slammed for their slow response to Cyclone Nargis, but the same cannot be said of the country’s tiny film industry, which is already busy turning the devastating storm into myth.

On a dusty road beside the People’s Park in central Yangon, still littered with fallen trees after the May 2 cyclone, an actor dances on the sidewalk dressed as a minor god with a headband and palm leaf tucked into it.

“We are telling the tale of the cyclone and what the gods have done to bring this terrible storm,” said the assistant director, Li Gong.

The film is being made by a private company but is for Myanmar television, which is tightly overseen by the military government in one of the world’s most reclusive and oppressive nations.

“We are saying how the actions of a god can bring suffering to the people,” Li Gong added.

Superstition runs deep in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar and everyone from strongman Senior General Than Shwe to stall-keepers in Yangon’s bustling market rely on the advice of soothsayers and astrologers to plan their lives.

Street myths after Nargis, retold by taxi drivers in Yangon, suspect the storm — which left 134,000 people dead or missing and another 2.4 million clinging to survival — can be traced to the unhappiness of the gods with the military’s 46-year rule.

Editing by Ed Davies and Valerie Lee

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