Friday, August 11, 2006

Myanmar Film Festival and plans for a Bayinnaung film in Burmese

After reading a bit, I still decided to write a Wikipedia article on cinema of Myanmar.

Many people have apparently been persecuted for their political beliefs in the Burmese film industry, so writing anything about it is like handling dynamite. The recent history reads like something out the McCarthy era in the United States.

Having read Burmese language books on Burma's early film industry though, I know there is a very interesting and positive history to be written here for the earlier periods at least.

A festival of Myanmar films will run from August 17 to 20 in Bangkok at the Major Ramkhamhaeng. All the films were directed by Kyi Soe Tun and have English subtitles.

Read about the film festival in the Bangkok Post (deleted in one week) and the People's Daily Online (see below).

The Burmese filmmaker Kyi Soe Tun has made historical epics on the Pagan and late Konbaung periods and plans to make a film similar to MC Chatreechalerm Yukol's "The Legend of King Naresuan" that will "tell the same story from Burengnong's [Bayinnaung's] point of view." Kyi Soe Tun is friends with MC Chatreechalerm Yukol and the script for his planned film has been finished for three years. He's currently looking for financing for the film.

Note, that I transcribed some classic Burmese film scripts, including one by Kyi Soe Tun I believe, into computer readable form and put them online several years ago. They are a good way to become familiar with the spoken Burmese language and are available online at this rather slow site.

Note also that there are no Wikipedia pages yet for Myanmar cinema. Branching off Southeast Asian cinema would be the right place to begin. Obviously, an entry has to be made for the actor Kyaw Hein. There's an article in the online Irrawaddy Magazine that provides a lot of historical background that could provide the basis for a beginning Wikipedia "stub" on Burmese or Myanmar cinema.

Myanmar film festival to be held in Bangkok

The first ever Myanmar film festival abroad will be held in Bangkok, Thailand in May, aimed at expanding the market for Myanmar films overseas, sources with the film industry circle said Friday.

Five movies will be screened in the Myanmar film festival scheduled for the second week of May, Director U Kyi Soe Tun, who is also Chairman of the Myanmar Motion Picture Organization, told Xinhua in an interview.

The films, all directed by Kyi Soe Tun himself, are titled "No Longer Slaves of Others", "Sacrificial Hearts", "The Upstream", " True Love" and "Hexagon".

Meanwhile, as part of its bid to penetrate the international film industry market, Myanmar entered Chinese film festivals with three Myanmar films during the last six years, namely, "Master of Flowers" screened in 2001, "The Hearts of the Givers" in September 2004's Yinchuan Film Festival and "Mystery of the Snow Story" in November 2005's Chinese Golden Rooster Hundred Flower Film Festival.

In 2004, Myanmar also introduced to Malaysian audience " Kyansittmin", a movie based on the life of the ancient Bagan era monarch King Kyansittha who reigned from 1084 to 1113.

To upgrade Myanmar film, Myanmar, in cooperation with Japan, jointly produced a film titled "Thway" (blood) and released in 2003.

To encourage Myanmar film production and bring up the quality, the Myanmar government presents yearly motion picture academy awards to successful artists and in December last year the government presented 11 such awards for 2004 out of 27 movies produced during the year.

Of the 11 film awards, "Mystery of the Snow Story" received the best film award. The film, which had been presented at film festivals held in Singapore, South Africa and China, was shot at a snow-capped mountain in northwestern Myanmar's Chin state. (Source: Xinhua)