Centenary anniversary celebrations of Myanmar film industry held virtually

The 100th anniversary of the Myanmar film industry was celebrated virtually using digital technology yesterday. State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi sent a congratulatory video message to the event before the opening ceremony with the centenary commemorative song for Myanmar motion picture industry entitled ‘Fine image of Myanmar motion picture’.

State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Union Minister for Information Dr Pe Myint, Yangon Region Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein, Patron of Myanmar Motion Picture Organization Sithu Bogale Tint Aung and Chairman of Myanmar Motion Picture Organization U Nyi Nyi Tun Lwin cut a ceremonial ribbon virtually to mark the ceremony.

The State Counsellor sent a congratulatory video message to the ceremony. Sithu Bogale Tint Aung, Patron of the MMPO, gave some brief remarks at the centenary event, saying that Myanmar started producing a movie within one or two years after movies were first created in the world; and that the Myanmar film industry has reached its 100th year anniversary in October 2020.

He continued to say that it was planned to organize the anniversary in joyous celebrations with entertainments, souvenir shops, closer participation of common people and artistes; however, the expectations faded away due to the outbreak of the pandemic, causing to limit the activities unavoidably.

The patron added the centenary cerebrations are likely to happen in October 2021 as it is included in the centenary.

Union Minister Dr Pe Myint said in his congratulatory remark that the centenary recelebration is a rare occasion; it was expected to organize the event in a large scale, and that preparations have been made since 2019 with the participations of leading persons of MMPO, those in the film industry, the Ministry of Information and Yangon Region government.

The objective for the 100th anniversary of Myanmar film industry are: (1) To promote the journey of 100th anniversary of Myanmar motion picture which emerged together with the struggle for independence of Myanmar, (2) To strive for the development of the Myanmar film industry by imitating and being inspired by the artistic talents and technical skills of veteran Myanmar film artistes who had become prominent in successive eras, and (3) To serve the country and people with unity and artistic creation of professionals in the film industry.
Celebrations of the Silver Jubilee for the Myanmar movie industry were attended by Bogyoke Aung San in 1947, and arrangements were made to invite state leaders of the country to the 100th-anniversary event.

A committee on organizing the centenary celebrations of the Myanmar film industry was formed by order of Office of the President on 13 February this year, with the patronage of the State Counsellor and Sithu Bogale Tint Aung in the leading committee on organizing the event.

While relevant committees were carrying out their works, the COVID-19 outbreak occurred, and the decision was finally made to organize the event virtually. The Union Minister added that the celebrations would be held on a large scale after the pandemic is under control.

The virtual event was held together with celebrations of contests for articles, knowledge quiz and short documentaries, with some other programmes of the paper reading session, issuing postage stamps by the Ministry of Transport and Communications, screening 100 movies, weekly live programmes for 100 film songs, and talks with veteran film artistes. The 13 items of souvenirs to mark the centenary were produced, and 128 films were digitized during this period. The magazine for the 100th anniversary of the Myanmar movie industry will be published soon.

Many Myanmar movies can be watched in mobile applications as an online film festival with the participations of film and broadcast media organizations in following control measures against COVID-19.

The Union Minister also made a brief comment on the ongoing situations and possible trend of Myanmar film industry based on his experiences in working with the professionals in film industry, talking about the onset of foreign movies in Yangon after a few years later of global film culture emergence. Yangon was one of the major port cities of Asia over 100 years ago. Since then, cinema halls emerged in the former capital, along with the film business, after a few years in other global cities. Moreover, outstanding Myanmar young people could produce movies among foreign films and film businesses owned by foreigners.

The first Myanmar film was ‘Metta and Thu Yar’ (Love and Liquor) produced in 1920, followed by other Myanmar movies produced by the national-owned film companies. In 1935 before the Second World War, Myanmar artistes created a film entitled ‘Offspring of Japan’ in Japan.

During that period, many foreign films were screened in Yangon, Mandalay and other townships. However, the Myanmar film industry and the artistes could survive in their profession and were popular among the Myanmar audience.
However, the Myanmar film industry has declined in a certain period due to a political system that controlled artistic creations in literature, Thabin and music, while the country suffered an economic downturn at the same time, impeding the inflows of updated knowledge and modern technologies. It was impossible to import modern film equipment, and there were some difficulties to purchase films for the production of movies, leading to a decline in the industry before the situation improved in recent years. Union Minister Dr Pe Myint remarked that the Myanmar Motion Picture Organization was reformed into an independent body comprising members elected from this industry, and that film production has increased in the last 4 or 5 years, and more cinemas appeared in this period.

He added that film production quality has improved with a new idea, modern technologies and new creations of younger generations with a passionate enthusiasm for quality movies. In contrast, capital investments have surged in this industry due to trust in possible benefit from good quality movies. In conclusion, the Union Minister said that the Myanmar film industry had possessed fundamental requirements; although COVID-19 outbreak has hindered the uptrend of this industry, it will surely improve again due to existing good fundamentals and capacity of artistes.

Then, Yangon Region Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein, Chairman of MMPO U Nyi Nyi Tun Lwin also gave their congratulatory remarks at the event.

Prizes were then awarded to the winners of the article contest and knowledge quiz contests. Then, honorary certificates were presented to Patron of MMPO Director Sithu Kyi Soe Tun for organizing contests of articles, knowledge quiz and short documentary; to Patron of MMPO Director Sithu Aung Myint Myat for creating video clip of Myanmar film history museum; to Deputy Director-General U Myo Myint Aung and Vice-Chairman of MMPO U Aye Kyu Lay from MRTV for the video clip of 100 movies; and to Director-General U Ye Naing and U Zaw Win Htut from Emperor Band for the video clip of 100 movie songs. The event was concluded with the commemorative song for the centenary, written by Sithu Bogale Tint Aung. The celebrations were broadcast live with pre-recorded programmes of MRTV and the use of digital technologies.