History People Places
Traditions Product Catalogue Contact Us
 

 

Cinema

 

Burmese Academy Awards Burmese Film Stars Gallery Modern Day Film Stars Gallery

History

The Cinema of Burma has a long history dating back to the 1910's. The person who created the first silent film was U Ohn Maung (Burma's first producer and director) and he is now known as Burma's "film father".

Burma's first film was a recording of the funeral of U Tun Shein - a leading politician of the 1910's, who campaigned for Burmese independence in London. It was captured with a second-hand camera by U Ohn Maung and was screened at the Royal Cinema, near Scott Market (now Bogyoke Market), which belonged to a Mr Achar, a friend of U Ohn Maung.

Despite its documentary nature, the Burmese public was very proud of the film, which opened with the notice "Please accept our apologies for the poor quality of the film".

U Ohn Maung

U Ohn Maung then founded The Burma Film Company to produce and direct more films. He hired U Nyi Pu (Burma's first actor) to shoot the first Burmese silent film Myitta Nit Thuyar (Love and Liquor) which proved a major success, despite its poor quality due to the fixed camera position and inadequate film accessories.

The film opened with the title "Burma Film presents: Love and Liquor" but there were no credits or mention of the cast. It was based on a story by author P Moe Nin about how gambling and alcohol destroyed a man's life. The day the film premiered, October 13, 1920, is commemorated annually as Myanmar Movie Day. Fox of America asked for Burmese nature study scenes and bought them from U Ohn Maung. He also acquired more advanced film accessories and cameras from the Kodak Company.

P Moe Nin

 

The first Burmese sound film was produced in 1932 in Bombay, India with the title Ngwe Pay Lo Ma Ya (Money can't buy it) and was directed by U Toke Kyi. Films dealing with social issues and political themes became popular in the 1930's. Parrot Film Company produced films that addressed social issues such as gambling and police corruption, although the films were censored by the British colonial government.

There were also films that were banned like Dou Daung Lan (Our Peacock Flag) and Aung Thabyay (the Triumphant Jambul) in 1937. The political film Boycott was directed by the student leader Ko Nu in 1937 and starred other student leaders such as Aung San and Htun Ohn. The censors allowed this film to be showed. many of the films of this era no longer exist due to the lack of adequate preservation.

U Toke Kyi

 

After World War II, the Burmese cinema continued to address political themes. many of the films produced in the early Cold War era had a strong propaganda element to them. The film Pale Myetyay (Tear of Pearl) was produced in the wake of the Kuomintang invasion of Burma in the 1950's and highlighted the importance of the armed forces or Tatmadaw to the country. Ludu Aung Than (The People win through) featured anti Communist propaganda. The script was written by U Nu who served as Prime Minister during the 1950's.

The famous film maker and author U Thu Kha starting producing films during this period. His most famous film is Bawa Thanthaya (The Life Cycle). Burma held its first Academy Awards in 1952. There was strict censorship and control of film scripts during the Socialist era commencing in 1962.

U Thu Kha

 

In the era that followed the political events of 1988, the film industry became increasingly controlled by the government. The movie industry was privatized after 1989 as the government opened up the economy. The film company Mingalar became the most powerful company in the film industry. Film stars who had been involved in political activities during the 1980's and 1990's, such as Aung Lwin and Tun Wai, were banned from appearing in films. the films of some directors such as Win Pe have also been banned. The government issues strict rules on censorship and largely determines who produces the films.

Over the years, the movie industry has also shifted to produce many lower budget films that are distributed cheaply as video tapes and CDs. These serve as substitutes for the lack of television and cable broadcasting. Most of the movies produced nowadays are comedies.

U Aung Lwin

 

Love and Liquor (Myitta Nit Thuyar)

1920 Burmese silent film directed by U Ohn Maung and written by P Moe Min. It was the first Burmese feature film and It premiered at the Royal Cinema, Rangoon on 13 October 1920.

Cast - Nyi Pu & Ye Ye

Plot - Story about how gambling and alcohol destroyed a man's life.

The film opens with a simple title "Burma Film Presents: Love and Liquor" and there is no mention of credits or cast.

The film proved a major success, despite its poor quality and inadequate film accessories.

U Ohn Maung is considered to be Burma's pioneer filmaker and he founded the Burma Film Company.

Copyright allthingsburmese.com