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New film fund supports young movie-makers in Burma

A restored version of Mya Ganaing, a 1934 drama directed by Maung Tin Maung, will be screened at this year's Memory! International Film Heritage Festival in Rangoon. (Photo courtesy of festival organizers)

Aspiring filmmakers, it’s time to get working on your screenplays. A call for feature-length film scripts will open in July to help emerging directors fund and workshop innovative movie ideas to foster Burma’s cinematic renaissance.

The Myanmar Script Fund is a new initiative by the founders of the Memory! International Film Festival, an annual event dedicated to film heritage. The festival will be held in Rangoon for the second consecutive year from 4 to 13 of November.

“A country with no cultural future cannot build for tomorrow,” said Séverine Wemaere, co-founder of the Memory! festival. “Access to culture for every citizen is as vital as access to healthcare and nutrition.”

Ideal candidates will be emerging auteurs working on their first or second feature-length films. Submissions will be open from 1 July to 20 August; updated info and application procedures will be available on the Memory! website as the deadline approaches.

Up to eight finalists will be selected to present their script treatments to an international jury of industry professionals who will be in Burma to attend the festival. All finalists will receive individual consultation on script development and professional guidance on entering the international film industry during a four-day workshop.

“Creating a feature-length film is one of the most challenging adventures for a young director, everywhere in the world: Myanmar Script Fund aims at identifying and coaching young talents, at the early stage of their script development,” Wemaere said.

The Memory! Film Festival was established in 2013 as the sole international event dedicated to film heritage in Asia. Globally, there are very few festivals focusing primarily on cinematic history. The festival, which was launched in Cambodia, found a new home in Burma last year.

This year’s lineup will showcase about 80 films from around the world, and will also feature a number of classic Burmese films as part of its “Myanmar Film Treasures” initiative. Notably, the programme will premiere a restoration of one of the oldest Burmese films that still exists in celluloid format: Mya Ganaing, a 1934 drama directed by Maung Tin Maung.

Several high-profile guests will also attend the 10-day festival, including French filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius, who will present his Academy Award-winning film The Artist.