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Being Mon

What does it mean to be from the Mon ethnicity – and gay?


The Mon were one of the earliest peoples to inhabit Southeast Asia and once had their own kingdom in southern Myanmar. Ah Htet’s passion for the traditions of his native Mon saw him leave a highly respected job as village doctor to dedicate himself to preserving his people’s rich culture for future generations. Being Mon explores the challenges that Ah Htet faces: shaped on the one hand by his choice to give up medicine, and on the other by his brave decision to embrace his gay identity – no easy feat in conservative Myanmar. Fortunately for Ah Htet, his warm and caring family is ready to support him in the face of all kinds of prejudice.

Director's Statement

“This film is my bid to challenge the entrenched stereotypes that exist in Myanmar about LGBTI+ individuals. The protagonist of my film refuses to conform to societal norms and instead lives his life as authentically as possible. I was struck by the way that he and his family are not afraid to show their love for each other. They are living proof that genuine happiness stems from accepting and loving each other for who we truly are. This film is dedicated to them and aims to nurture communities founded on warmth, love, freedom, and acceptance.”

Director's Biography

May Thyn Kyi was born in Yangon to parents from the Rakhine and Inn ethnic groups in western Myanmar and central Shan State respectively. Frustrated by constraints for women working in journalism, she left reporting and presenting jobs to work in communications for various NGOs. Her interest in visual storytelling was sparked after attending a National Geographic Photo Camp in 2018. Eager to learn more about the moving image, she joined Yangon Film School in 2020 and made her first documentary Shifting Sands. This portrait of two sisters fighting for workers’ rights in the factories that have sprung up on the outskirts of Yangon won Best Documentary Short award at the Tiburon International Film Festival in the US and was nominated for awards at five of the other 11 film festivals where it has subsequently screened. Being Mon is her graduation film. May Thyn Kyi also takes part in artistic ventures, such as the Goethe Institute Myanmar’s RECONNECT and Myanmar Photo Archive projects. In 2022 she was selected to attend a Purin Pictures short film camp in Thailand where her first fiction film project Sunset was nominated for Platform Busan 2023. The project went on to win a grant from MEMORY! Short Film Fund and was completed in 2024.

Director's Filmography

Being Mon






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