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Films and film-making

Individual Documents

Title: Wanted: Actor to Play Aung San
Date of publication: September 2009
Description/subject: Soe Moe, one of Burma’s best-known film directors, says he plans to make a movie about the Tatmadaw, the Burmese army, but he hasn’t yet chosen the actor who will play its founder, Aung San, father of Aung San Suu Kyi... "The proposed film, which will carry the title “Kye Zin Maw Goon” (“Star of History”), will trace the Tatmadaw’s history back to the years of Burma’s independence struggle and the civil war that broke out shortly after British colonial rule came to an end in 1948..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 17, No. 6
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 19 January 2010


Title: Actor's Chilly New Film Project
Date of publication: August 2009
Description/subject: "Burma's award-winning screen actor Lwin Moe is moving once again from in front of the camera to make a documentary film about the glaciers of northern Kachin State. If the film proves as popular as his previous ventures into documentary production, Lwin Moe says he may ditch his acting career and become a full-time producer and director. For now, he is managing to combine all three areas of work..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 17, No. 5
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 26 December 2009


Title: Burma's Father of Political Cinema
Date of publication: August 2009
Description/subject: Businessman, filmmaker, patriot "Parrot" U Sonny made a profound mark on Burma's early film industry... "In Burma's modern history, there have been many artists who have taken great risks to tackle such challenging themes as nationalism, religion and social injustice. Some confronted the authorities of the day to produce works of art that reflected their political views, while others faced financial ruin to remain true to their convictions. Among the many artistic risk-takers who have had a major impact on Burmese culture, one name stands out from all the rest: the acclaimed filmmaker U Sunny, whose company, Parrot Film Productions, was a pioneer in the field of politically inspired cinema, producing 92 films from 1931 to 1957..."
Author/creator: Arkar Moe
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 17, No. 5
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 26 December 2009


Title: The Rambo approach to Burma
Date of publication: 20 June 2008
Description/subject: "Sylvester Stallone has claimed that his movie, Rambo 4, released internationally in February and available to Australians on DVD next month, has a serious purpose — to draw attention to the Burmese government’s long record of human rights abuses and to mobilize action against the military regime. Yet, its dubious entertainment value aside, this movie in fact has the potential to do Burma’s opposition movement considerable harm..."
Author/creator: Andrew Selth
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Interpreter" - weblog of the Lowy Institute for International Policy
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 04 March 2009


Title: Populism, Politics and Propaganda: Burma and the Movies
Date of publication: June 2008
Description/subject: Abstract: "For almost a century, movies set in or about Burma, particularly those made by the major American studios, have had a number of elements in common. While emphasizing its more colourful and exotic characteristics, they have either greatly romanticized the country or depicted it as a savage and untamed wilderness. Also, Burma has usually served as a backdrop for dramatic Occidental adventures, in which the local inhabitants played little role. More recent movies pay the Burmese people greater attention, but they are still secondary to the main plot, even when the movies consciously draw attention to the current military regime’s human rights abuses. In recent films like Beyond Rangoon and Rambo 4, however, complex issues are over-simplified, or exaggerated to the point of unreality. While these movies have proven effective at planting vivid images in the popular mind and helping to mobilize support for the opposition movement, crude and misleading messages such as those sent by Rambo 4 can actually hinder the resolution of Burma’s many problems."
Author/creator: Andrew Selth
Language: English
Source/publisher: Southeast Asia Research Centre Working Paper Series, No. 100, 2008 (City University of Hong Kong)
Format/size: pdf (208K)
Date of entry/update: 21 December 2010


Title: A Sad Cinema Scenario
Date of publication: August 2006
Description/subject: Burma’s movie industry is in decline while an illegal video business booms... In the heyday of Burma’s film industry about 80 movies were produced annually, enjoyed a golden heyday, some of them jointly with foreign production companies. But that was 50 years ago. Today, the industry is in the doldrums, with very few films making any money, cinemas struggling to survive and artistic standards at an all-time low..."
Author/creator: Yeni
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 14, No. 8
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 01 May 2007


Title: Lights, Camera—But Where’s the Action?
Date of publication: September 2005
Description/subject: Burma’s B movie scene, where B stands for Bad... "...Government participation in one form or another is inevitable in an industry so sadly lacking in outside investment. According to actors and directors, there are currently only two or three businessmen interested in producing films. Even the most popular Burmese-made films make little profit, if any. In what might be seen as an enlightened bid to upgrade the quality of Burmese films, the regime is actually encouraging directors and film technicians to get overseas training and enter their films in international festivals. Industry insiders say the Burmese military hope that film festival success will help to attract investors and draw people back to the cinema, where audiences have reportedly dwindled by up to 50 percent in the past two years. While few directors would risk trying anything political or religious, many want the opportunity to write scripts that deal with serious social issues; or at least something a little more experimental. They believe this would give local audiences new material and show international critics that Burmese films can be creative and make their mark on world screens..."
Author/creator: Toby Hudson
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 13, No. 9
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 30 April 2006


Title: Celluloid Disillusions
Date of publication: March 2004
Description/subject: "Given that Burma’s movie industry is tightly directed by the government, suffers from a deficit of technical skills and technology—not to mention financing problems—it’s a small miracle anything gets produced at all... Aye Aye, in her 40s, does not bother to hide her dislike of made-in-Burma m ovies. "Burmese films are not natural, their themes are boring and they never change plots. I hate to watch them." She prefers Hollywood movies. Other members of her family like the Chinese and Korean soap operas that air on state-run TV. "In fact," she said, "karaoke is ahead of the [Burmese] movie." Many educated Burmese in Rangoon told The Irrawaddy that they stopped watching Burmese films many years ago..."
Author/creator: Aung Zaw
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 12, No. 3
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 09 June 2004


Title: Digital Killed the Celluloid Star
Date of publication: March 2004
Description/subject: "Burma’s film industry has lagged behind that of its neighbors as a result of outdated technology, government censorship, hackneyed screenwriting and mediocre acting. But a humble piece of plastic may soon change all that: the DVD..."
Author/creator: Min Zin
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 12, No. 3
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 09 June 2004


Title: Escapist Entertainment: Hollywood Movies of Burma
Date of publication: March 2004
Description/subject: "Hollywood representations of Burma paint the country as an exotic, cruel land that serves as a backdrop for daring occidental adventurers and patriots... The earliest Hollywood imaginings of Burma were romantic melodramas about white women in jeopardy, using the Southeast Asian landscape as an exotic backdrop. These and subsequent films about Burma have relegated Burmese characters to the sidelines. A lurid, silent thriller about prostitution and murder, Road to Mandalay (1926), set the tone. Eight years later saw the release of Mandalay, in which the Sacramento Delta in California plays the part of the Irrawaddy River. It is a sordid tale of revenge, murder, a Rangoon nightclub hostess, and a drunken doctor on his way to a "black fever" outbreak. The Girl from Mandalay (1936) featured another nightclub entertainer, another epidemic, and a tiger attack. Moon Over Burma (1940) is Dorothy Lamour’s turn as the nightclub chanteuse, with Burma depicted as a jungle paradise, the usual setting for her popular "sarong movies"—romances in which she sang, swathed in form-fitting batik. The central character in these early pictures was always the victimized, yet plucky, Western—or part-Asian—woman adrift in the mysterious Orient..."
Author/creator: Edith Mirante
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 12, No. 3
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 09 June 2004