Myan­mar Script Fund an­nounces win­ners

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse - NANDAR AUNG nan­da­raung@mm­

AFTER months of wait­ing, the Myan­mar Script Fund has fin­ished its read­ings and made the fi­nal de­ci­sions.

Di­rec­tors Mg Sun, Nwaye Zar Che Soe and Thet Oo Maung were awarded US$1000 each on Novem­ber 8, as well as promised per­son­alised coach­ing in their craft after com­pet­ing in the five­month challenge.

One com­po­nent of the 4th Mem­ory! In­ter­na­tional Film Her­itage Fes­ti­val 2016, the Script Fund is an ef­fort to de­velop screen­writ­ing in Myan­mar. Ap­pli­cants were in­vited to send treat­ments for full-length films to a panel, which sorted through ap­pli­ca­tions and se­lected nine fi­nal­ists.

The se­lected film­mak­ers had a chance to work­shop their scripts over a four-day pe­riod with in­ter­na­tional ex­perts such as Michel Hazanavi­cius, di­rec­tor of the 2011’s Academy Award for Best Pic­ture win­ner The Artist, dur­ing the past five weeks. Other col­lab­o­ra­tors in­cluded Yan­gon Film School’s Rachel Mathews and Open Doors di­rec­tor So­phie Bour­don.

“Ev­ery­thing starts with a good script,” said Grace Swe Zin Htaik, a Myan­mar Academy Award-win­ner in her own right who also served on the Script Fund jury. “I find that one of the big­gest prob­lems in to­day’s low-qual­ity films is the scriptwrit­ing.”

She added that the Script Fund jury hopes to see two fea­ture films emerge from the win­ners of the work­shop: 4 Legs, by Mg Sun, and Satur­day Born Aries, by Nwaye Zar Che Soe. Both film­mak­ers re­ceived the Main Jury Award, which in­cludes the chance to travel to the Czech Repub­lic na­tional film and TV school FAMU.

“It is un­be­liev­able,” Nwaye Zar Che Soe told The Myan­mar Times after re­ceiv­ing her award. “I feel so en­cour­aged after de­vel­op­ing my script with these veterans of the in­dus­try. It’s hard for me, and for all the film­mak­ers who want to go abroad with their films, to write great scripts.”

Her Satur­day Born Aries script fo­cuses on the 2020 Par­a­lympics, to be held in Tokyo, and tells the story of a woman with dis­abil­i­ties strug­gling for equal rights. Thet Oo Maung’s Wis­dom was also recog­nised with an In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment Award, mean­ing he re­ceives the cash prize but no paid trip to Europe. Other fi­nal­ists, in­clud­ing 31-year-old We Ra, said the real prize was the face­time with in­dus­try ex­perts.

“It’s re­ally rare to meet with these di­rec­tors,” We Ra, who earned his fi­nal­ist spot on the back of One Sum­mer Day. “We learned some­thing fun­da­men­tal: how to write a script to in­ter­na­tional stan­dards.

“I didn’t want the awards. I just wanted to learn from these great di­rec­tors.” Hazanavi­cius – the jury’s pres­i­dent – had sim­i­larly good things to say about the ea­ger film­mak­ers he worked with over the past few weeks.

“It is won­der­ful ini­tia­tive. This script fund can help them to go for­ward to the process. And for me, it is very in­ter­est­ing to meet them and see how they worked and how they dreamed. They re­ally want to make progress and it is so good for their coun­try that young peo­ple want to cre­ate sto­ries,” he said.

The Script Fund con­clu­sion comes dur­ing the mid­dle of the Mem­ory! In­ter­na­tional Film Her­itage Fes­ti­val 2016, which runs through Novem­ber 13.

Photo: Aung Htay Hlaing

Michel Hazanavi­cius awards film­maker Thet Oo Maung the In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment Award on Novem­ber 8.

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