Under the Mask - TB Screening Campaign 2019


We are proud to share the exciting news that the Sermpanya Foundation, in co-production with the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit (SMRU), completed its first full length TB drama film UNDER THE MASK in March 2019. Focusing on the challenges of the Tuberculosis disease, its symptoms, treatment and prevention, Under the Mask presents the real life issues facing TB patients living along the Thai Myanmar border, including the various aspects of stigmatisation TB sufferers face and the devastating impact this often fatal disease can have on livelihoods and families. The narrative of the film is based on the real testimony of tuberculosis patients and, despite dealing with such a diffcult subject, the film is entertaining and inspiring and allows the audience to empathise with both the physical and emotional journeys of the characters.

The film was produced with the financial support of FilmAid Asia and MORU the Mahidol Oxford Research Unit (MORU) under a Wellcome Trust Public Engagement Grant.


The production of UNDER THE MASK represents part of FilmAid Foundation’s mission of educating and empowering communities through the emotional impact of film and the memorable experience of shared storytelling through mobile cinema screenings. Using our participatory methodology, we train refugees and others to make films that speak to their own communities in a culture and language that will be readily understood. Directed by Saw Ler Wah, a long term FilmAid Asia/Foundation team member, the film took its name from the fact that TB patients have to wear masks for the duration of their treatment, which can last for up to 20 months or longer. Saw Ler Wah and Saw Min Thu, the Director of Photography, spent time with chronic TB patients at the SMRU Shwe Koh Ko Clinic to get first hand accounts of their personal experiences. Using this testimony and under the mentorship of Mary Soan, FilmAid Asia/Foundation’s Director, Saw Ler Wah was able to craft a powerful and moving script which accurately portrays the experience of living with and overcoming, this potentially deadly disease and the value of sharing this knowledge with others. 


Working in co-production with Dr Michele Vincenti, who leads the TB programme at SMRU and her dedicated medical team, important technical and practical messages were successfully woven into the story to provide accurate education and information on transmission, symptoms, treatment and prevention of the disease.

One of the most important issues arising from this global disease is stigmatisation towards those affected by TB and these are also highlighted in the film, emphasizing the need for better understanding and empathy towards sufferers of the condition. Crucial information for prevention and the need to follow a strict treatment regime, such as necessity of taking prescribed medicine at the same time each day, are also emphasised to show that you cannot fight TB without help and better health awareness.

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Using actors drawn from the local villages and SMRU clinic staff, the story follows the lives of 3 main characters as they journey from diagnosis to treatment; all with the help from the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit (SMRU) TB team.  None of the actors had any experience of acting before and it is the mark of the skill and calm of director Saw Ler Wah that they were able to remember their lines and understand the repetitive and painstaking process of film making. “Just one more time”!!


Under the Mask was shot by our DP Saw Min Thu, an original FilmAid Asia graduate, whose talent and creative vision gives the film a veracity and cultural sensitivity which engages and draws in the audience on a difficult subject matter through every frame. The editor was Patrick Sone Lin Htoo who has worked with FilmAid Asia for many years and has become a highly skilled and versatile editor, animator and graphic designer.


The music composer was Min Khai Linn at Classic Studio and together we have created a beautiful and energising soundtrack to the story. The film is shot in full HD and runs 75 mins and the language is Burmese with Karen, English and Thai subtitles. The film will also be dubbed into Karen Language.


The film premiered in Shwe Ko Ko in Karen State on 22 March 2019 marking a much anticipated goal for FilmAid Asia and the Foundation in terms of starting cross border screenings and reaching audiences at a grassroots level! We thank MORU and SMRU for this opportunity to produce and outreach this film which demonstrates so clearly how film can bring hope and change lives.


Htee Law Shu village, Karen State - Night Screening

Htee Law Shu village, Karen State - Night Screening

Following detailed pre-scouting and interactive meetings with village leaders, a five week outreach campaign was launched when the intrepid Sermpanya Foundation and SMRU teams set off together on the first cross-border mobile cinema screening campaign in Karen State (Myanmar), marking a milestone in FilmAid Asia/Sermpanya Foundation’s history.


The Mobile Cinema team - FilmAid & SMRU - On the Road!

Health education with the movie is more effective than verbal sessions, because we (the community) can memorize a lot and share what’s in the movie…pamphlets are not very effective, as most villagers can’t read or write.

The campaign was able to successfully reach rural 16 villages in 5 different districts of Karen State, with screenings specifically scheduled at night to accommodate the daily work routines of the farmers and local villagers. Pre and post screening question and answer sessions were conducted to allow for deeper understanding of the subject and testing for TB was offered for those who were concerned they may have symptoms.

Htee Law Thit village - Post screening questionnaire

Htee Law Thit village - Post screening questionnaire

The teams faced a myriad of challenges as they encountered difficult terrain and the early onset of the rainy season but true to form they managed to overcome any problems and bring the mobile cinema successfully to the eagerly awaiting villagers, many of whom had never seen a film before.

Htee Kew Htam village - Post screening questionnaire

Htee Kew Htam village - Post screening questionnaire

In addition to screening the educational drama, Under the Mask, other short messaging clips were shown to encourage good health and hyiene behaviours.

Evening screening in Htee Law Shu village

Evening screening in Htee Law Shu village

At the end of the five week campaign, the teams had successfully reached 3,107 villagers and TB testing revealed 2 confirmed cases. The feedback from the villagers overwhelmingly confirmed that watching a film helped them understand the issues surrounding the disease better than that gained from a brochure and the shared screening experience helped them overcome their fear and misunderstandings about the disease. They requested we come back as soon as possible!

Kyant Set Village

Kyant Set Village

We are now in conversation with SMRU to set up more cross border screening campaigns in the coming months but we need your support to help make this a reality! TB can affect anyone, in any country - your donation can have a real impact - Remember you cannot fight TB alone - It’s time to Act together! Thankyou!

Local Karen Villagers

Local Karen Villagers

FilmAid Asia Cocktail Party - The Murray Hotel, Hong Kong - 25 April 2019

On Thursday evening, 25 April 2019, hosted by the iconic Murray Hotel in Hong Kong’s Central district, supporters of FilmAid Asia gathered to celebrate 8 years of humanitarian operations in the 9 Refugee Camps situated along the Thailand Myanmar border.

A clear night under the stars, on the Murray Hotel patio, set the scene for FilmAid Asia to share how the Power of Film and our programme has transformed lives and helped communities from Myanmar who have been victims of conflict and ongoing displacement.

FilmAid Asia is now transferring its efforts to the FilmAid Foundation, which is registered as a Thai charity and known as Sermpanya in the local language, meaning ‘sharing wisdom’, and will continue to levy support to maintain and development our important humanitarian work in the region.

FilmAid Asia wishes to thank the wonderful staff and crew at the Murray Hotel for their wonderful hospitality, with special mention to Dean Dimitrou, Hotel Manager and Vishal Anand, Operations Director for making sure the evening went perfectly!

FilmAid Asia thanks all the amazing supporters that have allowed us to reach so many thousands of vulnerable people by sharing education, information and psycho-social relief to communities in need and by bringing lasting benefit to their lives and projecting hope for a better future.

Please continue to support our important work by clicking on the DONATE button or clicking on www.filmaidasia/donate. Thank you!


Former Kosovan Refugee tells how FilmAid changed her life in 1999

On June 10, 2018 at 7:21:56 PM, More Raca wrote:

Dear Caroline and FilmAid team,

I am really happy to be writing you after find your contact. It is a joy to finally know who were the people that had this impact on my childhood and from whom I was inspired to follow a career as a filmmaker. You and Film Aid International have had a great impact on my life.

I was six years old when I and my family had to leave our home in Kosovo and we became refugees in Macedonia. I remember thinking about my classroom and my classmates. I remember seeing my mom sad and depressed while holding my hand, she was 26 the same age that I am today and my dad holding my 2-year-old brother in his arms. When we were sent to the camp in Macedonia, people were silent and no one speaks about the terror that has happened.  There were many people but I was feeling lonely and sad. I missed my toys and my friends, I missed someone who could smile at me, and all I was seeing was sad and desperate faces. Then some magic happened, more than anything in the world I needed magic and that was brought to me by a projector that I recently found out that brought to Macedonia.  I was seeing cartoons and Charlie Chaplin movie, and for a while, there was a feeling that things will be alright, a feeling that I wasn’t alone. For a while I was happy and the entire trauma that we went through went away. It was just me and the character of the film.

Growing up that had an impact on my life. I knew and felt the power of film to change people’s lives and to heal wounds that nothing else can heal. It was this impact that you had in my childhood, this escape that you offered me, this magic in those times of terror that made me want to become a film director.

Today I make films to change people’s perspective on life, to make them aware of different issues, to advocate for their rights. I try to give voice to those who cannot tell their stories. I also work as a lecturer and teach young people the power of film.

Films are magic and I should thank you for showing that to a six-year-old refugee girl from Kosovo in 1999.

Forever thankful,

More Raça.

Film Director and human rights activist 

More Raça | Writer and director




World TB Day 2019 - premiere of “Under the Mask”

World TB day 2019

It`s time to talk about the real life of TB patients

UNDER THE MASK A FilmAid Foundation & SMRU Production

A premiere and a great success for the TB movie at Shwe KoKo, Myanmar on Friday night 22 March 2019!

Organised by SMRU, World TB Day was marked with 2 awareness raising events in Shwe KoKo School on Friday 22 March - the morning event was attended by young students and villagers with presentations on TB prevention and treatment from SMRU staff and District Hospital officials, with moving testimony from former TB patients and with interactive question and answer sessions. FilmAid Foundation provided audio visual support, showed health awareness short films, a trailer of the evening’s film Under the Mask, as well as videoing the event.

As night fell under a large yellow moon, we saw FilmAid Asia’s first night screening across the border in Myanmar in partnership with SMRU. The outdoor premiere screening of TB drama film Under the Mask was attended by more than 300 local villagers including members of the cast and crew. A post screening survey saw a satisfaction rating of 97% from the audience! FilmAid Foundation’s team produced the 1hr 15 min drama film based on the real testimony of TB patients in SMRU’s KoKo clinic, with a script written to raise awareness of the TB disease by encouraging treatment, diagnosis, prevention and destigmatisation. Filmed entirely in Shwe KoKo village and in SMRU’s TB clinic by FilmAid Foundation’s team and friends the film used local villagers and clinic staff members as cast and background actors.

The film will be shown in 17 villages in Karen State in May.

World TB Day - Under the Mask Night Screening

World TB Day - Under the Mask Night Screening