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Black Lady Sings

One woman’s uphill struggle to preserve Mon traditional dance and song


Singing and dancing has been Mon Masein’s passion since childhood. In her heyday, ‘Black Lady’ as she is affectionately known, was a celebrated performer of Mon dances, allegorical ballads and humorous duets dating back at least three hundred years to the last Mon kingdom. But now, as her voice begins to fail and her limbs stiffen, the 76-year-old wonders if she will succeed in handing over the baton to a new generation of performers before it’s too late. Nonetheless, it is her strength, daring and humour that tower over this touching portrait that also captures the subtle tensions between Mon and Burmese politics, heritage and modernity.

Director's Statement

‘In Myanmar, successive governments have consistently neglected and often repressed the traditional cultures of the country’s many ethnic groups – including my own group, the Mon, which has its own distinct language and heritage. My protagonist has dedicated her whole life to an ancient Mon art form that is at risk of disappearing when the ageing members of her troupe are no more. This film is my way of paying homage to one woman’s determination to halt that process – in the face of both personal trials as well as the hardship brought about by decades of conflict in politically contested Mon State.’

Director's Biography

Mi Ni Ni Aung (30) lives on Bilu Island in the Gulf of Martaban in Myanmar’s Mon State. After graduating from Mawlamyine University with a major in chemistry in 2014, she studied journalism at Burma News International (BNI) and subsequently worked as a digital producer for BBC Media Action and others until 2023. She enrolled at YFS in 2022 where she directed her first short documentary, Dancing with the Spirits. This film received its world premiere at the prestigious Jean Rouch International Film Festival in Paris, France. She has since made the documentaries Missing Home about the plight of women in IDP camps, and Will There Be A Tomorrow? about nurses tending to refugees in Karen State’s conflict zones. In 2023 she joined a YFS crew to film a short fiction film, A Story About Love. Black Lady Sings is her second YFS-produced documentary.

Director's Filmography

Black Lady Sings






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