Myanmar Script Fund announces winners
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.
Michel Hazanavicius awards filmmaker Thet Oo Maung the International Development Award on November 8.