A narrative feature about a filmmaker failing to make a film about punks in Yangon

by Maja Holzinger

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An aspiring filmmaker in New Orleans quits her high school teaching job to make a film about punk rockers in Yangon, Myanmar, overlooking one detail: she has no story.

#streetpunxofyangon is a narrative screenplay created by New Orleans based filmmaking duo, Puerto Rican-born writer/producer Yamil Rodriguez and Polish-native writer/director Maja Holzinger. The story idea originated from Maja’s trip to Myanmar where she stumbled upon an underground punk scene and shot a short film with the band Rebel Riot: PLAY


Maja, a frustrated high school film teacher in New Orleans, dreams of shooting a film about Burmese punk rockers from the streets of Yangon. When her friend Yamil, a charming but flighty pizza delivery guy, convinces her to let him produce it, they set off on an epic struggle to make their movie. As pressure mounts, Maja makes a series of potentially terrible decisions: she quits her job, buys two one-way tickets to Myanmar, and begins pitching a film with no script to a host of unlikely investors. She becomes obsessed with the Instagram feed of the punks, especially Kyaw Kyaw, their charismatic leader. At the same time, Yamil starts making his own movie, filming Maja's increasingly desperate attempts to develop and fund the project, secretly hoping to document her utter failure. Will Maja overcome her delusions, free herself from her Instagram-inspired fantasies, and succeed in her elusive quest to figure out what the story is really about?

What are the underlying themes?

Feminism: The film portrays Maja as a complex female protagonist pursuing her dreams, contending with sexist attitudes, and figuring out her own identity while navigating the creative process. In addition, the main relationship in the film is the one between Maja and Yamil which explores the idea of a non-sexual intimacy between a man and a woman, countering heteronormative stereotypes seen in film.

Social Media: The film speaks to the impact that social media has on our sense of reality. # in the title of the film symbolizes the Instagram-induced, digital fantasy in which the hero lives. In order to actively pursue her dream, Maja has to ground herself in reality.

What makes this film unique?

We’re presenting unique storyworlds. First, modern day post-Katrina New Orleans as we’ve never seen on the screen. The film features transplants who have adopted the carnivale culture in their everyday lives where the celebration never stops. The wild costumes and bizarre settings create a magical surrealist environment. Also, despite how its portrayed in the news, modern day Yangon that is going through a cultural renaissance. In addition to the prevalent Buddhist culture, there are underground punk and hip-hop shows, a burgeoning film scene, and contemporary art galleries in private apartments. Both cities maintain a magical aura between the old and new worlds, despite being on polar opposites sides of the globe.

We are adopting a somewhat experimental approach to filming this script where everyone in the movie plays versions of themselves. The purpose of this approach is to contrast the theme of delusion by making the film look and feel as authentic as possible.

Maja Holzinger and Yamil Rodriguez

Writer/Actor/Director Maja Holzinger, upon receiving her masters in Film Studies, settled in New Orleans where she has directed several short films and taught at the University of New Orleans. She is currently producing and editing a documentary about musician Alex Ebert as well as developing her first narrative feature #streetpunxofyangon.

Writer/Actor/Producer Yamil Rodriguez, a Puerto Rican born, Miami raised artist based in New Orleans has presented his performance art on screen, stage and galleries. He is currently producing and editing a documentary about musician Alex Ebert as well as co-writing and producing a narrative feature #streetpunxofyangon.

Writer/Producer Eric Layer is a writer, producer, actor, and musician residing in New Orleans. He recently completed his graduate degree in creative writing with his thesis novel Boiltown. In 2011, Eric was awarded the Emerging Voices Fellowship at PEN Center USA, followed later by the Mark fellowship. His film review parody, “Quixote Jones,” recently appeared in the anthology Critically Acclaimed. Other stories have been featured in The Rattling Wall, Trop, Palehouse, Penny-Ante, and The Medulla Review.

Director of Photography Alex H. Payne is a New Orleans-based cinematographer. Ale has shot award-winning narrative shorts, music videos for the likes of Arcade Fire and Pell, commercials and branded content for T-Mobile and Facebook, art and fashion films, and an Olympic Games television series pilot. His work on “Hunter” was recognized with the Cinematography Award for a Louisiana Narrative Short at the 2016 New Orleans Film Festival.

Producer Zuzanna Böhm Borucka is a producer and performer based in New Orleans. Originally from Poland, she moved from NYC to collaborate with director Maja Holzinger. She produced Maja’s shorts: “Fantastic Uvi”, “Morning Steph” and a music video “Street Punx Oi!”.

Producer Betsy Holt is an actor and independent filmmaker based in New Orleans and Los Angeles. Highlights of her career in narrative short films include: premiering her directorial debut, "Happy Birthday Peg" (commissioned by Borscht Corp), this past year; producing a series of interactive live action events that paired with the short "Check Surrounding for Safety" at film festivals across America; and winning NoBudge's Best Female Performance award in 2015 for "Chandelier" (NoBudge's Best Experimental Film), which she co-wrote and produced with director Alexander Yan. Betsy plays the titular character in the upcoming feature film Jules of Light & Dark. www.imdb.com www.betsyacts.com

Production Designer Brooke Sauvage is a writer, costume designer, and character based in New Orleans. She works with the Marigny Opera Ballet, has produced pieces for Vice, and has assisted in the production of Music Box houses at New Orleans Airlift. She is currently working on a novel as well as a conceptual costume collection to be released in conjunction with Carnival season www.brookesauvage.com