Myanmar started making films in 1920 but sadly the current film vault inside Film Development Center was established in 1980s and still cannot be converted into a national level archive yet. Before 2017, archiving was a stranger thing in our country. Even film preservation (35 mm reels) gained no interest at all by the public and filmmakers as the trend of making films changed into digital format. There was no individual or organization working specifically on preservation and accessibility of documentary heritage. Save Myanmar Film is the only NGO which pioneered the archival project and conducted several workshops with foreign professionals. However, it is forgotten that our history, living standards and styles and of all, the art created by ancestors are still remain on the films. Very important national documentaries like “Documentaries on attempts to gain Independence”, “speeches made by our Independence Hero, General Aung San” etc. are still being kept on the films which are not in very good conditions and need urgent preservation.
The country has been making films _analogue and digital for about 100 years and the surviving films in the so-called film vault are only a handful of them. Therefore, in the beginning of the journey, Save Myanmar Film had countless attempts to make the public aware of the importance of film preservation works first. SMF initiated many talks and events to spread this tiny information of documentary heritage. The crucial role of SMF is to let filmmakers, film lovers and film students in the film industry first see that our documentary heritages are under threat and need urgent saving procedures. Save Myanmar Film team members demonstrated volunteering in educating the public about the heritage and preservation. Being a small organization without having strong budget and funds, it was apparently very challenging to participate in the world’s heritage event like SEAPAVAA. Fortunately, SMF received lots of help and support from the neighboring countries which were quite experienced and knowledgeable regarding this field.
As an on-going process, Save Myanmar Film has been doing film repairs, identifications and rewinding for the surviving black and white and colour films being kept in the vault_ which is the only way to extend the lives of them due to lack of other archive facilities. Additionally, the team has finalized the film catalogue for public access based on the data collected from the previously done research. Last but not least, we were grateful to international archiving community for welcoming us and appreciating our efforts. Our small project has become an organization now.
The following are the ultimate goals of Save Myanmar Film Organization:
Meanwhile the team has put their efforts to achieve the following things:
1) Lost and Found (Films, Telecine movies, Tapes etc.)
3) Cataloging and identifying surviving films
4) Film Repair
5) Conducting Workshops
6) Public Awareness (via Social Medias and events)
7) Upgrading the film archive vault to become Myanmar National Film Archive in the future