HOUSE OF THE WEEKmore
A brief history of the Myanmar Academy Awards
(Volume 26, No. 509)
This vintage photograph shows a scene from Aww Main Ma (Oh, women!), which won director U Thu Kha the best director award at the first Myanmar Academy Awards ceremony held in 1952. Pic: Supplied
THE Myanmar Academy Awards has a reputation for unpredictable results, most notably last year when only six prizes were awarded instead of the expected 11, and rather controversially, none of the prizes were given to women.
The awards ceremony has been held annually since 1952 and was designed to help raise the standard of films produced in Myanmar. To begin with there were only three categories: best film, best actor and best actress, with second and third place prizes also given.Over time the awards ceremony has expanded significantly. In 1954, a best director award was introduced with the second and third award prizes being removed in 1955. In 1956 a best cinematography award was created and in 1962, best supporting actor and actress awards were also introduced. In 1990, the number of awards reached 10 with the addition of best screenplay, best music and best sound awards. The awards have now topped out at 11 with the addition of a best editing award.
Adding to the unpredictability of the awards ceremony are prizes given to child performers some years and the duplication of awards when the judging panel cannot decide who should win. And of course, sometimes awards are simply not awarded if it is decided that no person is worthy. In total, 310 awards have been given as of last year.
The first film to win the best picture award was Chit Thet Wai (Dear Thet Wai) in 1952. The best director award was first given to U Thu Kha for his Aww Main Ma (Oh, women!), a comic drama. Actor Kyaw Win won the first best actor award in Marlaryi with Kyi Kyi Htay winning best actress for her perfomance in Chit Thet Wai (Dear Thet Wai).
Actor Nyunt Win is top of the awards table having won seven in total for best actor and best supporting actor roles. Director U Thu Kha and actor Yan Aung follow with six awards apiece and actress Myint Myint Khin, director Mg Tin Oo, actor Kyaw Hein, director Kyi Soe Tun, actress May Than Nu and editor Than Nyunt (Pan Thar) each have five.
The awards ceremony used to be held in Yangon (apart from 1963, 1986 and 1988), however, it was moved to Nay Pyi Taw in 2007, which marked the awards ceremony for the year of 2005. This year’s competition features 12 films vying for awards, following recent trends in cinema in Myanmar, most of them are comedies.
This year’s judging committee is comprised of experts and officials from the Myanmar Motion Picture Association, Myanmar Music Association, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Religious Affairs, News and Periodical Enterprise, Ministry of Education and the Attorney General.