Cur­tain rises on Mem­ory! Film Fes­ti­val

The 4th an­nual her­itage cin­ema fes­ti­val got un­der way in Yan­gon this week­end with a premier of the re­stored 1934 silent film Mya Ganaing (The Emer­ald Jun­gle), the old­est Myan­mar film still in ex­is­tence. The fes­ti­val will con­tinue through Novem­ber 13.

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - CHAR­LOTTE ROSE char­lot­telola.rose@gmail.com Mem­ory! In­ter­na­tional Film Her­itage Fes­ti­val takes place at Nay Pyi Taw Cin­ema and Waziya Cin­ema from Novem­ber 4 to 13. Ad­mis­sion is free for all screen­ings. For the full sched­ule of films, visit mem­o­ry­film­fest

THE cur­tain went up on the 4th Mem­ory! In­ter­na­tional Film Her­itage Fes­ti­val at Nay Pyi Taw Cin­ema on Novem­ber 4, with the Myan­mar pre­miere of the re­stored 1934 silent film Mya Ganaing (The Emer­ald Jun­gle), the old­est Myan­mar film still in ex­is­tence.

The open­ing was at­tended by a host of spe­cial guests in­clud­ing French ac­tress Cather­ine Deneuve, Myan­mar ac­tress Daw Swe Zin Htaik (Grace) and Michel Hazanavi­cius, Acad­emy Award­win­ning di­rec­tor of the 2011 silent film The Artist.

Severine We­maere, founder of the non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion Mem­ory Cin­ema, which or­gan­ises the fes­ti­val, said they had cho­sen to host the event in Myan­mar be­cause it is “a coun­try of cin­ema”.

“Myan­mar was a pioneer of film­mak­ing in Asia, and cin­ema is clearly in the DNA of the Myan­mar peo­ple,” she said.

Mya Ganaing was re­stored ear­lier this year at the L’im­mag­ine Ritrovata of Cineteca di Bologna, a highly spe­cialised film restora­tion lab­o­ra­tory in Bologna, Italy, and made its world pre­miere at the Lo­carno In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val in Switzer­land in Au­gust. Fri­day’s screen­ing, which was ac­com­pa­nied by a live per­for­mance by Hein Tint and his Hsaing Waing ensem­ble, along­side mu­si­cians from Ger­many, was well-re­ceived by au­di­ence mem­bers. “We should def­i­nitely be pre­serv­ing these older films be­cause we can learn a lot from them,” said film­maker La Min Oo af­ter the screen­ing. “Why would we want to keep this in the bin? It’s a great film … To think that they re­ally went into the jun­gle to make this film, and the ac­tors did all of their own stunts – it’s in­spir­ing.”

But he added that the Myan­mar film in­dus­try had made lit­tle progress since the 1930s.

“Once you’ve seen [Mya Gan­ing], you don’t need to watch any Myan­mar films that are cur­rently be­ing made, be­cause they’re still the same … Even though this is a silent film, story struc­ture-wise and di­a­logue-wise, they haven’t changed,” he said.

Charles Bon­homme, head of co­op­er­a­tion at the French em­bassy, which spon­sors the fes­ti­val, said Myan­mar’s film her­itage is an im­por­tant part of its cul­ture and should be pre­served.

“Some­body from the au­di­ence … was the great grand-daugh­ter of the main ac­tor in [Mya Ganaing]. She had heard about the movie all her life, but it was the first time she had ever seen it. Mya Ganaing is well-known in Myan­mar, but most peo­ple have never seen it. I’m happy that this trea­sure has now been re­turned to them,” he said.

The Mem­ory! In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val runs un­til Novem­ber 13 at Nay Pyi Taw Cin­ema and Waziya Cin­ema. Around 60 in­ter­na­tional clas­sic films will be on show, as well as Myan­mar films Yadan­abon (Trea­sure Trove, 1953) and Che Phawa Daw Nu Nu (Ten­der are the Feet, 1972).

Events so far have in­cluded an un­prece­dented out­door screen­ing of Char­lie Chap­lin’s Mod­ern Times and Michel Hazanavi­cius’ The Artist in Ma­ha­ban­doola Park on Novem­ber 6.

PHOTO: THIRI LU

Photo: Thiri Lu

Cather­ine Deneuve talks to fans dur­ing the open­ing of the fourth Mem­ory! In­ter­na­tional Film Her­itage Fes­ti­val at Nay Pyi Taw Cin­ema on Novem­ber 4.

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