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An epic cinematic tale depicting the colourful life of an Austrian student in Burma –and her marriage into a disappearing royal dynasty – has wrapped up its filming in the country.
A film adaptation of Inge Sargent’s biopic Twilight Over Burma: My Life as a Shan Princess is now in post-production. The film tells the story of Sargent, who fell in love with Sao Kya Seng, the prince of Shan State’s Hsibaw Province.
They married in Burma during the last days of the saophas, or the Shan princes, but Sao Kya Seng vanished after the Burmese regime took control, and the country was subsumed by Ne Win’s iron-fisted dictatorship.
The film-telling of the story will star Austria’s Maria Ehrich as Inge Sargent, and Thai actor Daweerit Chullasapy as Sao Kya Seng. The supporting roles are filled with a mix of Thai and Burmese thespians, depicting palace servants and people of Shan State.
Actress Muay Noom Hom tells DVB: “I play a palace maid in five scenes, including the naming ceremony of the saopha’s daughter; the arrival of the Burmese army at the palace; and helping the mahadevi [queen] to understand the Shan language.”
Twilight Over Burma is among the small but growing number of films produced in Burma each year. The country’s film industry dates back more than 100 years, when veteran filmmaker Ohn Maung, locally hailed as the father of Burmese cinema, produced the realm’s first silent film during the 1910s.
Burma’s silver screens and cinematic art faced a serious setback after the military seized control in the 1962 coup. Cinemas were nationalised, and strict censorship put in place, which endured until recent years.
Given the modern popularity of Hollywood movies and foreign blockbusters in Burma, the Myanmar Youth Film Festival was held for the first time last year, aiming to boost Burma’s sluggish film industry and encourage budding local film-makers.
Burma has also been home to the annual Myanmar Motion Picture Academy Awards since 1952. Last year, 2014, saw the 63rd ceremony, hosted by British luxury car manufacturer Jaguar.