The post-TIFF festival season gets a light start with Rendezvous With Madness, a fest smartly deciding to do a mostly online fest with select in person screenings. One of the online selections include Rain in 2020, a title that feels like a misnomer since rain seems to always fall in Myanmar. The documentary covers seven years in the life of a Chinese family in that country, experiencing these rains more harshly because they live in a valley. Also, the government seems to not care if the region is perpetually deep in rainwater. Life goes on in a place of perpetual interruption.
Despite covering seven years of the family’s life, the most important sections seem to depict 2019 and 2020, the latter year more obviously conspicuous. The same goes for the family’s observation of yearly religious rituals. The family grandmother acts as if nothing’s happening, continuing her work as usual. From 2013-2019 she sells her homegrown vegetables and makes thousands of kyat a day, amounting to single digit Canadian dollars. Her son, though, juggles two jobs, one as a jade miner and another as a banana farmer. The Chinese brought the latter industry to Myanmar both both have dangers in workers’ bodies and minds.
There are things that the crew try to do here as they aim for an observational documentary. But again I emphasize the seven years worth of footage within the final product’s 77 minutes of running time. And I do so because it doesn’t feel enough. There’s two things happening in Rain in 2020. One is that yes, I feel bad for the filmmaker. Many of his interview segments has his interviewees looking at their phones. Instead of, you know, looking at the camera. Two, that the camera leers uncomfortably at its many participants which makes for an equally uncomfortable viewing experience.