RubyHunters Filmstill004

Ruby Hunters

The hopes and fears of a group of artisanal miners in Myanmar’s infamous valley of rubies

December, 2023
Goethe-Institut Myanmar Competition
Winner of the Goethe-Institute Diamond Documentary Award
Yangon, Myanmar

Synopsis

When gemstone mining became illegal under Myanmar’s democratic government in 2019, locals rushed in to explore the forbidden mines that big companies had been obliged to abandon. Ruby Hunters delves into the unforgiving toil and enduring dreams of one group of artisanal miners as they search by hand – amid the tumult of the country’s ongoing civil war – for the precious rocks they pray will one day make them a fortune. 

An impressively filmed and at times spiritual perspective on artisanal mining which captures the paradox of abundance of riches and resource mismanagement in Myanmar. 

Goethe-Institut Myanmar Documentary Competition Jury 

Director's Statement

‘After completing my studies at YFS in 2020, I spent two years travelling the country in my capacity as a development worker – but the desire to return to filmmaking never left me. In the meantime, a coup had returned Myanmar to military rule and plunged the country into a devastating civil war. When a friend introduced me to someone who had worked for a mining company in Mogok, I decided to accompany him to Myanmar’s notorious ‘ruby land’ in the hope of unearthing a topic for a film. My explorations took me to a village where I met U Kyin Wan, the foreman of a group of local artisanal miners of Lisu ethnicity. The more I observed him and his hardy band during the filming, the more I began to realise that this type of mining does not only mean back-breaking and dangerous physical work; there is also a spiritual dimension to these excavators’ relationship with the earth. I wanted my film to convey both the earthly and sometimes unearthly aspects of their toil.

Director's Biography

May Myat Noe Aye was born in Yangon in 1995. She studied German and business management and worked as a researcher for Enlightened Myanmar before joining Yangon Film School in 2018. Since then, she has worked in various capacities on several of her peers’ films: from sound recordist and/or designer on Kachin Reporter (dir. Sein Yamone Htoo) and Going Home (dir. Chit Moe Pio), to editor on Shin Thandar’s award-winning short documentary Worlds Apart. Other collaborative projects include an animated documentary Beyond the Hatred based on a story from the book ‘Of Peaceful Days …’, as well as a short drama about the inhabitants of an apartment block in Midtown Yangon, which she also helped to mix. Her own journey into directing began with a lively portrait of the well-known Mandalay-based performer Wareru in Burmese Rapper. Ruby Hunters is her second documentary. 

Awards & Nominations

December, 2023
Goethe-Institut Myanmar Competition
Winner of the Goethe-Institute Diamond Documentary Award
Yangon, Myanmar

Director's Filmography

2024
Ruby Hunters

Director

20‘50‘‘

2020

Co-Director

19‘37‘‘

2020

Sound Recordist

16‘36‘‘

2020

14‘56‘‘

2019

13‘6‘‘

2019

3‘58‘‘

Pictures

RubyHunters Filmstill001
RubyHunters Filmstill006
RubyHunters Filmstill008
RubyHunters Filmstill010
RubyHunters Filmstill013
RubyHunters Filmstill014