Election heralds new era for film sector

By Nyein Ei Ei Htwe and Zon Pan Pwint
Volume 31, No. 620
March 26 - April 1, 2012

A member of the Myanmar Motion Picture Organisation reads out votes on March 23.
Pic: Ko Taik

A PLANNED restructure of the Myanmar Motion Picture Organisation took an important step forward last week, with the election through secret ballot of members to represent different segments of the industry.

More than 1900 members voted in the election on March 23, which was held at the MMPO office on Wingabar Road in Bahan township.

The election is part of a push to turn the government-aligned organisation into a genuine non-government organisation. Members said it was a model of electoral transparency, with poll officers counting the votes in public and declaring the winner immediately after all votes had been counted.

No advance votes were cast.

Many who voted last week said they hoped that the election would result in the MMPO being reformed into an organisation that worked for the benefit of its members.

“I’ve been working in the film and video industry for nearly 40 years and I have never seen a free and fair election like this that allows all to participate in the MMPO,” said U Nyi Nyi Tun Lwin, who was one of two winners in the director category.

“If [the MMPO] becomes a new organisation as we hope it will, the leaders of it will also have more responsibilities,” he said.

“But I believe [reforming the MMPO] will bring better opportunities for all of us because it will not be under [state] control … but there will be bad results if there are no boundaries at all.”

The organisation has 10 subgroups and members voted for one nominee to represent their sector. The number of nominees ranged from two to 13, with the two from each sector who received the highest number of votes declared the winners.

The 20 winners were due to select office bearers, including a chair and secretary, through a vote on March 24.

Director U Myo Zaw Aung, who has worked as an executive at the MMPO for a number of years, said the winners would also hold a meeting to discuss the organisation’s future and how to tackle industry-wide issues, such as censorship and piracy.

“We’ve planned with all members to form a new organisation,” he said. “I think if we try to do everything in a rush there will be many gaps so as a first priority we’ll try to eliminate piracy and arrange for more studios because one problem in the industry is a lack of studios.”

“Unity among all sectors of the industry is 100 percent important so we’ll only make decisions after a lot of discussion. I think there are a lot of difficulties waiting for us but with honesty and hard work I believe the leaders can overcome these,” he said.

“It is not so important who won the election … but winners must be eager to do their work.”

Scriptwriter U Aye Kyu Lay said the organisation would need to look at reviving some of its dormant fundraising activities.

“In the past we published journals and magazines from the MMPO but these have been suspended for years, along with [celebrity] football matches that can raise a lot of funds. Those need to be revived,” U Aye Kyu Lay said.

He said he hadn’t needed to campaign for election because members knew who the best qualified candidates were. “I was elected as an executive of the MMPO in 2005 but I resigned from the organisation for some reasons. But now I’m ready to work for our new organisation as a representative of the scriptwriters.”

Comedian Zaganar said he believed last week’s election would bring “positive reform” to the film industry.

“As only a goldsmith knows the quality of gold, the situation of film is best known to those in the film industry. I believe only those in the industry can make good changes,” he added.

“I hope an independent organisation controlled by the members is going to appear, one that’s not under the influence of any other group. And I hope – I expect – we will see an organisation that is fair to each film crew.”

U Own Win from Lucky 7 film and video production said he wanted the organisation to take care of the welfare of older members of the industry.

“There are many cases where an old actor can’t live peacefully – although he was famous when he was younger, he was neglected when he grew old. So there should be a foundation to look after older industry members,” U Own Win said.

U Nyein Min, who stood as a candidate for scriptwriters, took the unusual step of voting for a rival candidate because he believed they would be “courageous enough to reform the industry”.

“That person’s participation [in the MMPO election] shows the focus of the organisation … is shifting towards how to improve the film industry,” he said.

“It was unusual that all participants showed unity in the election. In the past, actors were very individualistic, they were the ‘film lions’. But I saw unity on polling day.”

Following last week’s vote, Zaw Min (Han Thar Myay) and Ko Tin Nyein will represent editors; U Myo Zaw Aung and U Nyi Nyi Tun Lwin directors; U Aye Kyu Lay and Su Aww Chal scriptwriters; U Aung Khine and U A Yine supporting cast members; U Kyaw Wunna and U Own Maung producers; U Khin Maung Gyi and U Khin Maung Chin musicians and opera members; U Win Kyi and U Pyuu video industry; U Zaw Min (Mingalar) and U Zaw Min distribution; Ko Kyaw Nyunt and Ko Ngwe Soe camera crew members; and U Zin Wine and U Lu Min actors.