Bogyoke Biopic Suffers Funding Shortfall

By San Yamin Aung 30 October 2014

RANGOON— A groundbreaking film about the life of Burma’s national hero, Gen. Aung San, has been markedly delayed due to a funding shortfall.

The film’s executive producers told The Irrawaddy that they will begin making the film by piecemeal until they can secure sufficient funding for the project.

If completed, it wouldbe the first theatrical feature filmto focus on Gen. Aung San, warmly known as Bogyoke, Burma’s independence leader and father of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.

The film’s executive board said earlier this year that while they hoped to have a finished product by Aung San’s centennial birthday in February 2015, they will not meet that deadline but production should wrap up by the end of next year.

Four scenes will be filmed soon, they said, which should help to secure additional funding. Those four scenes are expected to be complete by February 2015.

“We will try to finish shooting four scenes by Aung San’s 100th birthday,” said the film’s director Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi, “then we plan to air it on local channels, and hopefully find interested donors to invest in the project.”

Zaw Thet Htwe, a spokesperson from the Bogyoke Aung San Movie Executive Board, told The Irrawaddy that the total production costs wouldrange from 2-5 billion kyats (US$2-5 million).

“It would cost more than1 billion kyats, even if we were only shooting here [in Burma]. So far we only have about 100 million kyats, so we are having some difficulties with the budget,” he said.

The ambitious three-hour narrative feature was conceived about two years ago, and the film’s executive board includes the subject’s daughter, Suu Kyi.

The board expects high production costs because it will require location shooting in several different countries including England, India and Japan, and realistic accessories such as clothing, décor and World War II-era weaponry.
“We started filming one scene last week, which takes place just before the Japanese occupation. Bogyoke sent his family—his wife, who was then pregnant with Suu Kyi, and two sons—from Rangoon to the Irrawaddy Delta where they would be safe,” said director Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi.

He said that the last of the four forthcoming episodes wouldbe about the assassination of Aung San while he met with his cabinet members on July 19, 1947, in Rangoon’s Secretariat building.

“We chose the scenes that we thought would most interest people,” he said, “and we have selected a talented actor and actress to play the roles of Aung San and his wife, Khin Kyi.”

Hundreds of hopefuls auditioned for the roles in 2012, and the board said the cast was chosen based not only on theatrical skill, but also physical appearance, intelligence, attitude and political awareness.

“The script is complete,” Zaw Thet Htwe said, “the protagonists are ready and the artists are standing by. We have everything we need to make this film except the money.”

Additional reporting by Sat Suu.