Director: Eugènia Balcells
Cartas de Akyab is conceived due to some letters found in an old travel bag, after Eugènia Balcells’s great-grandmother, Luisa, who had hidden them all throughout her life, passed away. On those letters is stated the date and place where they were written: Akyab, Myanmar. The spaces where there should be her name where blank, the words had been carefully erased to keep the secret of their origin. Starting from this evidence, and looking forward to a personal research, this documentary shows us the relationship between East and West, women’s issues and racial and social prejudice, great value and simple humanity of some unknown traditions, through an introspective journey, a search for the origins, a recognition of the feminine lineage and a fascinating discovery. This film honors Eugènia’s Burmese ancestors, that were forced to hide their origin in order to keep living in Europe where they were sent to study. The recognition and integration of this valuable vital heritage finds a meaning and gives coherence to the artist’s work as a whole. Thus, it becomes a multiple kaleidoscope of various reading positions, and a cultural patrimony of universal interest.
Eugènia Balcells was born in Barcelona and graduated in Technical Architecture. In 1968, she moves to New York and resumes her artistic training at the University of Iowa, where she obtains the MA in 1971. She starts her artistic activity during the mid-70s, in the context of conceptual art, being one of the pioneers in experimental cinema and audiovisual art in her country. The first installations, movies and videos she creates identify with the critico-sociological trends, addressing issues related to contemporary consumerist society and the effect of communication media on mass culture. Nowadays, she also teaches at different centers and universities. In her workshops and courses she works light as the creative essence, integrating various areas of knowledge in her vision, such as philosophy, literature, poetry or physics.