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MEMORY! Cinema (2013~, Myanmar)

MEMORY! Cinema is a non-profit entity created in 2013, acting on a global scale in the field of cinema. Its main lines of action are the training of filmmakers and the support of independent film projects, access to culture (through the organization of festivals), the preservation and promotion of film heritage, as an integral part of the memory of a country. Freedom of expression is one of its main drivers.

MEMORY! Festival presents each year an international conference. It is on a topic closely related to the main theme of the festival. A first of its kind in Myanmar, this interdisciplinary conference aims to explore the idea of film censorship in a broad cultural context, inviting connections between various forms of censorship and across historical circumstances. We open the floor to Myanmar-based and international presenters to join us in addressing this topic from a variety of perspectives including case studies, theoretical investigations, problem-oriented arguments, and comparative analyses.

Two main programs :

1. Myanmar Script Fund: a year-round recurring program launched in 2016 to support independent filmmakers in Myanmar. This program has never been interrupted despite the pandemic and the 2021 coup.

2. MEMORY! International Film Festival: annual mainstream festival, whose editions in Burma since 2014 were interrupted after the February 2021 coup. An edition is in preparation in Bangkok, Thailand. MEMORY! Cinema is mainly financed by public partners.

The seventh MEMORY! Film Festival will be held from Nov. 15-24 at three venues in Yangon—including an alley, where visitors will be able to see murals depicting scenes from the golden age of Burmese cinema.

Myanmar Script Fund

Myanmar Script Fund is a program for emerging local filmmakers and producers developing their first or second full-length feature film, fiction only. MSF is intended to help connect promising Burmese filmmakers with international audiences. The program has two components: MSF Original is reserved for new projects and applicants. Each year, six projects are selected and benefit from tailored coaching sessions. At the end of the session, they are part of a pitching competition in front of an international jury. MSF Advanced is dedicated to MSF alumni with the presentation of a previously selected project. Six projects are selected among the most mature. This part of MSF offers one-to-one coaching sessions with tutors before meetings with worldwide film industry decision-makers (festivals, funds, markets…).

Journalism & Culture Program

Associated with the Myanmar Journalism Institute, Memory! have developed the Journalism & Culture program. We strongly believe that culture is not only entertainment but also a key pillar for all democracies. We believe also that the press’ freedom is a key condition to develop the democracy.

Our common objective is to involve Myanmar emerging journalists to cover such a culture event which is also a political & social event. The participants to the curriculum are 20 students from Myanmar Journalism Institute. The workshop takes place during the festival and it supervises by professional journalists Carol Isoux, Jérôme Boruszewski, Laure Siegel & Thierry Falise. The workshop is shared in two parts: theorical sessions (festival’s opening) and practice with daily coverage of the festival. At the end, a newspaper in Burmese, Bioscope News, gathered all the articles. It is printed in 3.000 free copies.

This program was specifically supported by Parliaments & People Program / University of SOAS (London).

1. Documenting the Revolution

Since the military coup on Feb 1st, 2021, a collective of photo-reporters, alumni of Journalism & Culture Program, have documented the unfolding events since Day One at the risk of their own lives and assess the situation on the ground on an ongoing basis with freelance journalist and media teacher Laure Siegel. Memory!, which runs filmmaking and media workshops in Myanmar through the annual Festival in Yangon, has committed to publish their unique fieldwork from Yangon, Pyay, Salin, Monywa, Shwedaung, Lashio, Muse and Thandwe.. Their work gave birth to Documenting the Revolution.

2. Myanmar 100

Myanmar 100 is a program that has been running until the end of 2020, for the 100th anniversary of the Myanmar cinema history. Faced with the critical situation of the country’s film heritage, it was urgent to act. The project is comprised of three foundational components including restoration, preservation & access. Our initial assessment revealed a dire situation: less than twenty titles still have celluloid elements that could permit restoration work. Among them, MYA GA NAING (The Emerald Jungle) (1934) by Maung Tin Maung restored by MEMORY! in 2016, PYO CHIT LIN (1950) by Tin Myint restored in 2017 and MHONE SHWE YI (1970) by Win Oo restored in 2019. The creation of the National Film Archive of Myanmar is the ultimate purpose of this project. The project was developed with the Cinema Dpmt of Ministry of Information and the support of embassies of France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Singapore & Australia.

3. Mobile Cinema

MEMORY! joined forces with IFC, part of the World Bank Group, to launch a Mobile Cinema Program within Lighting Myanmar Project Campaign, showcasing Myanmar national film treasure, MYA GA NAING (1934) by Maung Tin Maung, in remote villages of Myanmar. The program aimed to bring the film restored by MEMORY!, part of national collective memory, to the people leaving in rural areas, where the access to electricity and culture is very limited or non-existent.

It started in December 2018 and traveled during four months in 2019 in Irrawaddy, Bago & Magway Regions and also Mon State. During this tour, more than 60 screenings were organized. The First Row was held in 16 small villages of the Irrawaddy Region from December 2018 to January 2019. During this tour, the townships concerned were Ingapu, Henzada, Pantanaw, Maubin & Mawgyun. The Second Row was held in 16 small villages in Bago Region from January to February 2019. The townships concerned were Paukkhaung & Pyay. The Third Row was held in Mon State & Irrawaddy Region (15 villages) from February to March 2019. The Four Row was held in 16 villages in Magway & Irrawaddy Region from March to May 2019.

4. Cinema Street

Located between 33rd and 34th streets of Yangon, just behind the Waziya Cinema, heart of the festival, the alleyway chosen was well known as a venue for public outdoor screenings, place of several film production companies and even a filming location: ONE FATHER, ONE SON (1975) by Maung Nandar. Unfortunately, in recent decades garbage has been accumulating in the middle of the alleyway, making the place insalubrious and almost inaccessible because of the amount of trash. Little by little all community life has disappeared.

The project has two components: first is the restoration of public hygiene and sanitation in the street. It includes garbage cleaning and sewer rehabilitation, but also training in maintenance and community’s education of good environmental reflexes. The second is a tribute to the Myanmar cinema’s history. The audience can indeed get to experience an open air street art gallery of outstanding murals on the Golden Age of the Myanmar film industry and attend to public open-air screenings of Myanmar Classics.

This project is carried out by the Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC) for the cleaning and Ygnwalls for the furnishing. It is funded by the Embassy of France in Myanmar. The sustainability of this programme is made possible by the mobilisation of the inhabitants, particularly women, united in a militant collective.


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