Chris Hnin creates documentary to explore identity, tell important stories

Chris Hnin ('17) is pictured during her Sophomore year producing a film that tells the unique narratives of three women in her hometown Yangon, Myanmar. Courtesy Chris Hnin

Chris Hnin launched a documentary centered around one fundamental question: What does it mean to be a woman in her hometown of Yangon, Myanmar?

The answer lies in the dozens of interviews, relationships and stories that Chris, a sophomore, uncovered as she traveled home last summer to produce her documentary in conjunction with a local film company. Funded by a grant through the Institute of Global Leadership (IGL), she chose to focus on the narratives of three Burmese women.

“We worked nonstop for three months,” Chris said. “It reveals a local dilemma between work and love, and the different stages of love.”

After growing up for 10 years in Yangon and 10 years in Singapore, Chris was inspired by her own struggle in form an identity tied to two such ideologically distant spaces, specifically when it came to attitudes toward women. She spoke about this struggle for last week’s production of Not Your Mother’s Monologues.

“I used the experience of working with a local NGO that deals with sexual harassment to write my monologue. It was a public round-table, about 20 women, just given a space to discuss their stories.”

While the documentary is currently in the post-production stage, with a rough cut due at the end of April, Chris stays busy with another creative endeavor: Namely, authoring and illustrating a full-length children’s book called “Gruffle and Something Very Shiny.”

“Burmese children have folklore, but no imaginative children’s books,” she said. “Stories are simple, but very powerful. My hope is that, one day, I can write bilingual stories for them.”