MEMORY! Film Festival Under Way With French Actress Isabelle Huppert in Attendance

By Lwin Mar Htun 19 November 2019

The long-awaited opening ceremony of the MEMORY! film festival was held at Yangon’s Waziya Cinema on Nov. 15 with award-winning French actress Isabelle Huppert and many local stars in attendance.

The 10-day festival—themed “Life Together”—kicked off with a screening of “La Cérémonie”, which earned French actress Isabelle Huppert the prestigious César for Best Actress in 1996. She is also a two-time Best Actress winner at the Cannes Film Festival.

“I’m so happy to be here. A small selection of my films will be screening…and all of the films at the festival are really about life. And I’m very curious to see Myanmar’s young filmmakers and audiences here,” Huppert said.

A man reads the schedule for the MEMORY! film festival in front of the Waziya Cinema on Nov. 15, the festival’s opening day. / Supplied

“Old and classic movies are difficult to keep and rare; it’s great to see those films on the big screen again. I personally love to watch old movies. The festival is a good chance for movie lovers,” she said.

Huppert will be in Myanmar for five days. She has already visited Yangon’s Shwedagon Pagoda and said she was excited about exploring more places in the city.

Union Minister of Information U Pe Myint attended the opening ceremony along with the ambassadors of the countries and blocs supporting the event: France, Switzerland, the European Union, Germany, the US and Australia. International guests joined several Myanmar film celebrities at the glamorous ceremony.

The festival opens with a screening of ‘La Cérémonie’, which earned French actress Isabelle Huppert the prestigious César for Best Actress in 1996. / Supplied

During its 10-day run, the festival will feature more than 60 films, including heritage and contemporary works from all over the world under the theme “Life Together”.

This year, the festival will showcase a restoration of the classic Myanmar film “Mhone Shwe Yi” directed by multi-talented actor, singer, writer, composer, publisher and director Win Oo. The film won Best Picture and Win Oo won Best Actor at the 1970 Myanmar Motion Picture Academy Awards.

The film will screen on Nov. 19 at 6 p.m. at Mahabandoola Park. Other Myanmar classics “Mya Ga Naing” by Tin Maung and “One Father, One Son” by Maung Nandar will also screen at the festival.

An audience enjoys watching ‘Chaplin’ at Mahabandoola Park. / Supplied

The MEMORY! Festival is organized by the Ministry of Information of Myanmar, in partnership with the Yangon City Development Committee, the Yangon regional government and the Myanmar Motion Picture Organization with the support of the Embassy of France in Myanmar, Institut français Birmanie and Institut français Paris, the Embassy of Switzerland, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the European Union Delegation in Myanmar. Additional support is provided by the US and Australian embassies.

The organizers’ original plan to screen movies in a Yangon alley as part of the festival has been canceled, but an associated street art exhibition is still open to the public. The festival’s screenings will now be held at two venues: the old Waziya Cinema and the city’s crowded Mahabandoola Park.

Myanmar Academy Award-winning actress Daw Swe Zin Htaik signs a mural depicting the film ‘One Father One Son’, in which she starred. / Supplied

One of Myanmar cinema’s major events, the MEMORY! Festival is already under way and runs until Nov. 24. Admission to all movies is free.