Although Burma's films are scarcely known to international audiences, this Southeast Asian country can trace nearly a century of indigenous motion picture production. From the silent documentary films produced under the British colonial regime, to the action movies of the Cold War years, to the melodramas of the Ne Win era, millions of people in Burma, including non-Burmese ethnic groups, have followed their favorite film stars, both on the screen, and in the pages of the country's numerous magazines. Because of Burma's decades of authoritarian rule, closed economy, and strict censorship policies, aspiring film directors have faced a number of challenges to get their productions to the silver screen. In this essay, I will offer a historical overview of four major periods in Burmese motion picture production: 1- the British colonial era; 2- the decades of national independence following the Second World War; 3- the Ne Win regime and the Burmese Socialist Programme Party; and finally 4- the decades following 1988-89 and the opening up of the economy to international investment. As we will see, film production is intimately tied to the country's political and economic conditions. The continued existence of Burmese motion picture production is a testament not only to the resilience of the industry but also the continued enthusiasm for locally made entertainment amongst the Burmese viewing public.
|Title of host publication||Le Cinema d' Asie du Sud-Est [Southeast Asian Cinema]|
|Editors||GaÃ«tan Margirier and Jean Pierre Gimenez|
|Place of Publication||France|
|Publication status||Published - 2011|