Film Set for Premier on 60th Anniversary of Burma’s First Hijacking

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 4 June 2014

RANGOON — A new film based on Burma’s first airplane hijacking will premier in Rangoon later this month, with the inaugural screening timed to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the real-life event.

The film, “With the Dawn: The First Hijack in Burma,” tells the story of the June 25, 1954, hijack of a Rangoon-Sittwe flight by a team led by the Karen National Defense Organization’s Maj. Saw Kyaw Aye.

The movie’s director, Anthony, told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday that it will be screened for special guests and the press at the Thamada cinema in the former capital on the same date this month.

The film will then be screened elsewhere in Southeast Asia, but the Burmese public will have to wait until October for the film to go on general release in the country, he said.

“I plan to show this film in Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia, other Asean countries, before showing it in Burma,” he said, explaining that Rangoon’s cinema’s already had a backlog of movies waiting to be shown on the limited number of screens.

Anthony said the film has a running time of about two-and-a-half hours. It includes animated scenes and is produced to international standards, he said, adding that production costs ran to nearly 300 million kyat, or about US$300,000.

“I tried my best shooting this film,” he said.

Anthony said the film, which is in the Burmese-language, will include English subtitles for international theaters, and he expects it to find an audience, especially among migrant Burmese communities in the region.

“I’m going to contact with the international film market soon after the press showing on June 25,” he said.

The hijacking that gives the film its subject—involving a Dakota airline with 14 passengers and four airline staff on board—ended when the plane landed in Arakan State’s Gwa Township. The plane did not have enough fuel on board to make it to the Karen mountains, where the three hijackers had planned to use it to access a storied weapons cache left behind by the Japanese after World War II.