Myanmar Movies: A Rich History of Filmmaking in Burma

Sunday, September 4 by Annette Smith

If you want to enjoy some great Myanmar movies, look to the classics of Burmese cinema. Burma, or Myanmar, has a film history dating to the early 1900s and the silent films of U. Ohn Maung, Burma’s “film father.” Many old Burmese films have been lost or censored for political reasons. These ten Myanmar movies—old and new—represent the best movies in the Myanmar film industry.

“Love And Liquor” “Love And Liquor,” originally titled “Myitta nit athuyar,” is a 1920 silent film directed by U. Ohn Maung. The Burma Film Company production focuses on gambling, alcohol and destruction. It features the acting talents of Nyi Pu, Maung Maung Chit and Maung Maung Kalay. As Burma’s first feature film, this classic is celebrated annually on Myanmar Movie Day.

“It’s No Use Giving Money” “It’s No Use Giving Money,” or “Ngwe pay lo ma ya,” is a 1932 “talkie” directed by U. Tot Gyi and produced with the Imperial Film Company’s help. Based on a Dagon Nat Shin novel, Burma’s first movie with synchronized sound features the exotic Indian settings of Bombay and Calcutta. Chit Tin Gyi, Khin May Gyi and Aye Ko star in the film.

“Thu Zar” “Thu Zar” is a 1940 Myanmar movie directed by Chan Tun and distributed by the British Burma Film Company. It tells the story of a strong bond and love between two brothers. Ba Tint, Khin Khin Ye and Khin Maung Yin star in the film.

“Phoe Pyonn Cho” “Pho Pyonn Cho” is a 1955 Myanmar drama directed by Mya Muang and produced by the Shwe Thiri Film Company. A winner of three Myanmar Academy Awards, including Best Film, the movie features the acting talents of U. Ba Chit, Phoe Par Gyi and Win Mar.

“Downstream” “Downstream,” or “Sone yay,” is a 1990 Myanmar movie directed by Kyi Soe Tun. It centers on a construction worker whose wife dies, leaving him to care for his children with the help of her sister. Kyaw Hein, Kyaw Min Htun and Ei Thiri Lwin star in the film.

“Naug Ma Kja Kyay” “Naug Ma Kja Kyay” is a 2004 musical drama directed by Mg Myo Min. The story centers on a young university student who is late for everything, including (seemingly) love. The film stars Dwe, Nhat Pyaw Kyaw and Khine Thin Kyi.

“Mystery Of The Snow” “Mystery Of The Snow,” or “Hlyo-hwat-thaw-hnin,” is another 2004 Myanmar musical. Directed by Sin Yaw Mg Mg, the film won seven national awards, including Best Film. It follows the adventures of a boy looking for his father who fell into a glacial ravine while searching for a rare Burmese butterfly. Lu Min, Lwin Moe and Soe Myat Nander star in the film.

“King Kyan Sit” “King Kyan Sit” or “Kyansit Min,” is a 2005 historical drama directed by Lu Min and produced by Everest Film Production. It recounts the life of King Kyansittha of Burma’s Pagan Dynasty. Lu Min, Nyunt Win and Aung Khaing star in the film.

“Beyond The Horizon” “Beyond The Horizon” is a 2006 Burmese drama directed by San Shwe Maung. Originally titled “Mogoke set wyne ko kyaw lun yeuh,” the film centers on a man whose nightmares are premonitions of the future. Tun Eaindra Bo, Yan Kyaw and Khine Thin Kyi star in the film.

“Lae Sar” “Lae Sar,” translated “Deceive” or “Tricky,” is a 2006 Myanmar comedy film directed by Thein Maung, known mainly for directing TV commercials. The hilarious Phoenix Film Production stars Kyaw Ye Aung, Moe Di and Dwe.