New York, N.Y. – January 26, 2022 – POV, the longest running independent documentary showcase on television, announced today the acquisition of Midwives, directed by Snow Hnin El Hlaing and produced by Snow Hnin El Hlaing, Bob Moore, Ulla Lehmann and Mila Aung-Thwin. Midwives premiered Monday, January 24th at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival’s World Documentary Competition. Snow Hnin El Hlain’s film will be broadcast on PBS as part of POV's forthcoming 35th season.
Filmed over a period of five turbulent years, Midwives tells the story of a makeshift medical clinic run by two women – Hla and Nyo Nyo – in a region torn apart by violent ethnic divisions. Hla, the owner of the clinic, is a Buddhist in western Myanmar, an area where the Rohingya, a Muslim minority community, are persecuted and denied basic rights. Nyo Nyo is a Muslim and an apprentice ze who acts as an assistant and translator at the clinic. Her family has lived in the area for generations, yet they are still considered intruders. Encouraged and challenged by Hla, who risks her own safety daily by helping Muslim patients, Nyo Nyo is determined to become a steady health care provider for her community. Snow Hnin Ei Hlaing’s camera follows these two women over a half-decade, witnessing their struggles, hopes and dreams amidst an environment of ever-increasing violence.
“POV is so proud to be the public broadcast home of Snow Hnin El Hlaing’s stirring and empathetic feature documentary debut” said Erika Dilday, executive director of American Documentary | POV. “Midwives builds on the power of filmmaking to tell an incredibly humane story about bridging differences, fighting persecution and the courageousness of these women willing to stand against oppression. We are honored to bring this film to American audiences.”
Midwives producer Bob Moore of EyeSteelFilm remarked, “We are so proud to share Snow’s remarkable debut feature with US audiences, and could not dream of a better partner to work with than POV. For 35 years POV has been a global leader in documentary cinema, and EyeSteelFilm’s own history with POV, now spanning over 12 years and five features, is one of our proudest achievements.”
The Midwives deal was negotiated by Chris White and Justine Nagan for American Documentary | POV and Bob Moore of EyeSteelFilm for the filmmaking team. POV has collaborated with EyeSteelFilm on several other highly acclaimed and award-winning films including Up the Yangtze, Last Train Home, Still Tomorrow, and Softie.
About the Artists
Snow Hnin Ei Hlaing
Snow has worked as a freelance filmmaker in Myanmar since 2006, acting as director, producer, editor and sound recordist after attending film Schools in both Myanmar and Germany. Her short, Burmese Butterfly played festivals in over 20 countries, and Period@Period won for best short at the Wathan Film Festival. Midwives is her feature documentary debut.
Producer Ulla Lehmann was born in Berlin and has lived in Germany and France. Together with film director Andrea Roggon, she founded AMA FILM. The company focuses on the development and production of creative documentaries and films of artistic and social relevance, e.g. Mülheim Texas by Andrea Roggon (Max Ophüls Preis, Crossing Europe), The Inner Light by Stefan Sick (Berlinale, Shanghai IFF), Wood and Water by Jonas Bak (Berlinale, New Directors/New Films N.Y.) and Midwives by Snow Hnin Ei Hlaing (Sundance Film Festival). AMA FILM also acted as distributor and released The Inner Light to over 70 German cinemas.
Mila Aung-Thwin is co-founder of the Montreal documentary production company EyeSteelFilm. He has produced more than 40 feature documentaries including Last Train Home (winner of 2 Emmy Awards); Up the Yangtze (Independent Spirit Award Nominee; Golden Horse Award winner); Rip: A Remix Manifesto (Webby Award Honoree; IDFA audience choice prize winner); and I Am the Blues (Canadian Screen Award winner). He is the executive producer and editor of Softie (Sundance World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award winner for Editing). He directed, produced, and edited Let There Be Light (Big Sky Film Fest’s Artistic Vision award winner) about mankind’s epic quest for fusion energy. He has worked with broadcasters around the world, including National Geographic, BBC, ZDF/ARTE, NHK Japan, PBS, etc. He served for five years as President of RIDM, Montreal's international documentary festival and has served on the juries of the Sundance Film Festival, the International Emmy Awards, and the New Zealand Screen Awards. He frequently mentors and gives documentary storytelling seminars to upcoming filmmakers - recent workshops include Guangzhou, China; Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; and Yangon, Myanmar.
Bob Moore is Co-President and Creative Producer at EyeSteelFilm in Montreal where he has produced over 40 feature documentaries since 2008. Together with his talented partners and collaborators, he has been the recipient of over 100 international awards, including Emmys, Cinema Eyes, Golden Horses, Owls, Phoenixes, and a variety of other celebratory animal-themed prizes. He’s been the subject of a Producer’s Spotlight at the Cannes Marché du Film, is currently an advisor and mentor working with the Sundance Film Festival, IDFA, DMZ Docs South Korea, QUMRA, Tokyo Docs, Dhaka DocLab Bangladesh, Hot Docs, and RIDM.
Produced by American Documentary, POV is the longest-running independent documentary showcase on American television. Since 1988, POV has presented films on PBS that capture the full spectrum of the human experience, with a long commitment to centering women and people of color in front of, and behind, the camera. The series is known for introducing generations of viewers to groundbreaking works like Tongues Untied, American Promise and Minding The Gap and innovative filmmakers including Jonathan Demme, Laura Poitras and Nanfu Wang. In 2018, POV Shorts launched as one of the first PBS series dedicated to bold and timely short-form documentaries. All POV programs are broadcast nationally on PBS, POV.org and the PBS Video app.
POV goes “beyond the broadcast” to bring powerful nonfiction storytelling to viewers wherever they are. Free educational resources accompany every film and a community network of thousands of partners nationwide work with POV to spark dialogue around today’s most pressing issues. POV continues to explore the future of documentary through innovative productions with partners such as The New York Times and The National Film Board of Canada and on platforms including Snapchat and Instagram.
POV films and projects have won 45 Emmy Awards, 26 George Foster Peabody Awards, 15 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, three Academy Awards and the first-ever George Polk Documentary Film Award. Learn more at pbs.org/pov and follow @povdocs on social media.
About American Documentary
American Documentary, Inc. (AmDoc) is a multimedia company dedicated to creating, identifying and presenting contemporary stories that express opinions and perspectives rarely featured in mainstream media outlets. AmDoc is a catalyst for public culture, developing collaborative strategic engagement activities around socially relevant content on television, online and in community settings. These activities are designed to trigger action, from dialogue and feedback to educational opportunities and community participation.
Major funding for POV is provided by PBS, the Open Society Foundations, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Wyncote Foundation, Reva & David Logan Foundation, Perspective Fund and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional funding comes from Nancy Blachman and David desJardins, Bertha Foundation, The Hollywood Foreign Press Association's Charitable Trust, Park Foundation, Sage Foundation, New York State Council on the Arts, public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, Chris and Nancy Plaut, Abby Pucker, Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee and public television viewers. POV is presented by a consortium of public television stations, including KQED San Francisco, WGBH Boston and THIRTEEN in association with WNET.ORG.
Midwives (2022) marks the 8th feature documentary to premiere in competition for EyeSteelFilm in the last 12 years at the Sundance Film Festival, reinforcing the position of the company as amongst the world leaders in creative documentary.
Founded in 2000, EyeSteelFilm is a film and interactive media company dedicated to using cinematic expression as a catalyst for social and political change. It was created to develop cinema that empowers people who are ignored by mainstream media, a mandate that has taken the company to explore projects, people and ideas around the world.
For over 20 years, Montreal’s award-winning EyeSteelFilm has made an international impact with cinematic social issue documentaries such as Softie (2020), Influence (2020), Dope is Death (2020), The Internet of Everything (2020), Anote’s Ark (2018), Let There be Light (2017), I am the Blues (2015), Deprogrammed (2015), Chameleon (2014), Forest of the Dancing Spirits (2013), Inside Lara Roxx (2011), Rip! A Remix Manifesto (2009), as well as a series of films chronicling modern life in China: Bone (2005), Chairman George (2006), Up the Yangtze (2007), Last Train Home (2009), Vanishing Spring Light (2011) and China Heavyweight, (2012). In the process, it has been the recipient of over 100 international awards.