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Save the film heritage
And when Maung Okkar found old roll cartons that his dad had abandoned, some of the strips had already become rock-hard and melded. "Several of the movies could still be purified and restored. However, they would worsen at some point if we kept them in our house," said Maung Okkar, the 30-year-old boy of Myanmar's acclaimed deceased filmmaker Maung Wunna, reminding us of the beginning of his interest in preserving movies three years ago.
Wunna's sire Maung was an award-winning moviemaker who produced many celebrated movies from the 1970' until the beginning of the 2000'. The pictures on these reels are a patrimony that is handed down from sire to sire and from one moviemaker to another. The cinema was a matter for the whole house, since Maung Okkar's grandpa Thadu was also a respected stage-man.
"He said, "I chose to keep those who were still in good shape in the archives to have a good stash. Unbeknownst to the presence of such a movie library until his first appearance, he thought that the studio might have kept many of Myanmar's old movies, among them his father's, intact.
However, he was said to have only a few tens of monochrome movies remaining in the strongroom, the oldest from the 1930' s and the last from the 1980', and some are in jeopardy of deterioration. This made him realise that he had to do something about these old roles.
"I didn't know what to do or how to do it," he said, and added that there was no training or workshop on how to maintain movies by the state or the public can. Burma began making movies in 1920 and several hundred monochrome movies, among them stills, were made there.
From the 1950' to the 1970', many still regard the era as the'golden age' of the sector, in which regional film-makers produce an annual output of almost 100 originals in a highly contested world. But the general population, scientists and scientists cannot see or read the movies of the Gold Era anywhere, except when they are shown on MRTV, the state channel.
U Bhone, the director of the film archives in the trade capitol Yangon, says there are currently only 12 monochrome and 127 colour cinematics. Each film is a copy of an Oscar nomination or a film that has been submitted to the archives by aproducer.
Green lacquered metallic boxes with cinema and newsreels are kept on wood shelving and kept at a room designed for this purpose at a room heating of 20°C in the archive offices. Several of the doses were rusted and one room was full of a biting smell caused by the "vinegar syndrome" caused by acetate-based depletion of the oil.
Humidity-regulated safes with a temperature of 0-4°C are the best place to delay decay and possibly preserve the movies for centuries, said Maung Okkar. Movies stored at below 20°C but at high relative humidities can only last 20 years or less. "pictures on these movies are a kind of legacy and story.
Every year, rolls of cinematographic material are corrupted in the Filmarchiv' s offices by obsolete conservation methods. Maung Okkar said that an archival safe with high-quality storing facilities was desperately needed. At the beginning of the year, Maung Okkar and six other directors initiated the Save Myanmar Movie programme to increase consciousness for the audiovisual conservation of movies and film-related material such as billboards, screenplays and photograph.
"The only way to make a film-maker's job better is to have the opportunity to learn how old movies from the gold era of the business were made," said Maung Okkar. A Czech trained cameraman and co-founder of Myanmar's first Wathann Filmfestival and a member of Save Myanmar Movie, Thaid Dhi said that a movie archives is serving as a story of a country's cinematic and social life and will play a vital part in the lives of coming generation of cinemagoers.
Formerly known as the Myanmar Motion Picture Agency, U Myint Thein Pe, a former film development department retiree at the Ministry of Information and former clerk of the former film and video censorship agency, said that old movies are a collaborative educational tool for a younger filmmaker to learn directed, narrated and technologically advanced techniques of the industry's older people.
"We are a very poor nation in conserving our inheritance. A lot of classical movies with priceless legacy have been recently lost," he went on. When old movies are renovated, those who are studying film making will be able to experience the different ripples of Myanmar film. Whilst Myanmar was one of the first counties to make movies in Southeast Asia, it is long for conservation, as Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia and Singapore already have working shops, said U Myint Thein Pe.
Yangon Film School (YFS) - a Berlin-based non-profit organisation that educates film makers in Myanmar - has started an effort to inventorise and renovate the film. Maung Okkar was commissioned by YFS to research old film. Said he was identifying more than 100 tracks across the nation, but most of them were transformed into video format by means of telecine transmission - resulting in qualitatively inferior duplicates as compared to theatrical dissolution - which are stored by MRTV.
There also restores the 1972 movie Che Phawa Daw Nu nuka Tender Are The Feet, director: Maung Okkar's sire Maung Wunna, to digitally in 2013. Re-enacted versions of the movie were first shown at the sixty-fourth Berlinale in 2014. Yadanabon from 1953, made by Maung Tin Maung and shown at the Karlovy Vary in Czechoslovakia in 1957, was kept by the organisers and later in the country's archives.
In accordance with the permission of the archives and the copyright holders of the movie, the 2014 Wathann Festival was able to show a video copy to a broader view. The International Filmfestival Heritage, began research into the remainder of celluloid-based cinema in Myanmar and abroad for conservation and work.
Last year, the club sent Maung Okkar to Italy to take part in a six-week FIAF summer school at the International Federation of film Archives, where he learnt archival and conservation methods - from clean-up, to handling, to digitization. The club's first conservation work was the Mya Ga Naing movie (The Emerald Jungle) by Maung Tin Maung, a famous filmmaker from Burma's movie industry, which was made in 2016 at the L'Immagine Ritrovata (The Recovered Image) lab in Italy.
The Mya Ga Naing is a silence movie featuring old Yangon scenery, 1930' fashions, loggings under UK settlement and Myanmar's groundbreaking U Kyaw Yin ballooning, who flown his personalised aeroplane across the state. An updated copy of Myanmar's oldest still existing movie, Mya Ga Naing, was shown in our gallery!
2016 Filmfestival. Maung Okkar said that if the state does not begin to do something, the state will no longer have these old documentaries in the near-life. Some rolls of tape can still be partly or completely repaired by hand, according to the seriousness of the problem, explains Maung Okkar.
To achieve this, the content of the archives must be correctly assessed in order to determine the status of the individual roles, he added. Though many movies have been wasted, others can still be in the personal collection of the manufacturing firms, possibly ignored and decaying.
"No one will ever dare a person like me to fix their movies. That is why we need measures by the government," said Maung Okkar. Save Myanmar Film's crew held a meeting with the Information Secretary in May and asked him to carry out conservation and conservation work. This group asked for approval to launch a thorough evaluation of the collective rolls of video in the archive offices to assist the administration with the technicalities.
It is still not clear whether the department will even allow the evaluation, said Maung Okkar. "First and foremost, the movies need an archival arch with an optimum heat and low air moisture, which is not expensive," he emphasized.
We' ve got to get started before it's too late,' said Maung Okkar. "Each old movie is one of a kind and inventive.