Classic Myanmar movie Mya Ganaing to ‘premier’ in Swiss film festival


Grainy photo from the movie Mya Ganaing (1934).

Grainy photo from the movie Mya Ganaing (1934). 

The classic Myanmar movie Mya Ganaing will be presented in its restored version on August 13 at Festival del Film Locarno in Switzerland, introduced by Daw Grace SweZin Htaik, Director of International Relations Department at Myanmar Motion Picture Organization.

Mya Ganaing or The Emerald Jungle (1934), by Maung Tin Maung, is the oldest Myanmar film from which elements still exist. The director, A1 Maung Tin Maung, is considered one of the fathers of Myanmar cinema.An actor, singer, filmmaker and producer, he worked in the 1930s with A1 Films, one of the most important production companies in Myanmar, which released films all around Asia.

Cinema began in Myanmar as early as 1920 and developed into one of the most active film industries in Asia for several decades.

In 2015, an assessment of the film archives revealed a critical situation, as fewer than 20 films are still in existence. In close liaison with the NGO MEMORY! Cinema, the Ministry of Information of Myanmar has approved and launched a major preservation programme aiming to reconstitute the national collection, to avoid further dispersion and time damage, and to undertake research for lost films in Myanmar and abroad.

As to the most ancient Myanmar movie today, Mya Ganaing was chosen in priority for a restoration project, carried out by MEMORY Cinéma.

In 2016, a complete restoration of Mya Ganaing was made from a dupe negative and a positive print preserved at the Myanmar Motion Picture Development Branch in Yangon. An additional mute positive print was found at the film archive of the Arsenal-Institutfür Film und Videokunst which lent this film element for the restoration project. The restoration works were conducted at the laboratory L’Immagine Ritrovata which is part of the Cineteca di Bologna (Italy).

As the first visible step of this major film preservation program in Myanmar, the digital restoration of Mya Ganaing, actively supported by several European institutions, is a milestone in Myanmar’s cultural rebirth of these years. Moreover, the movie, now part of the Official Selection of a major international film festival such as Locarno, will duly highlight the glorious past of Myanmar film industry. Several international releases will come, such as Singapore, and New York.

This project was funded by public and private entities: MEMORY! Cinema (France), Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal  Foreign Office of Germany Goethe-Institut Myanmar (Germany), Swiss Development Cooperation & Swiss Embassy in Myanmar  (Switzerland), Cineteca di Bologna and L’Immagine Ritrovata (Italy) , French Embassy in Myanmar (France) and Myanmar Film Heritage Society (Myanmar).

MEMORY! Cinema is a non-profit entity, Paris and Yangon-based, acting worldwide in the field of cinema, with 2 pillars: preservation and promotion of film heritage but also educational programmes, notably towards emerging filmmakers.

Among its main actions: Enable access to film heritage in the frame of cinema events open largely to the public, in particular film festivals ; Restoration programs ; Lost films programs ; Educational programs… Most of its actions are currently in Myanmar.

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