Filmmaker wins award for Myanmar royalty documentary

By OLIVER SLOW | FRONTIER

YANGON — A British filmmaker researching a movie about Myanmar’s last royal family has been awarded a five-figure grant for the upcoming feature at a ceremony in the United Kingdom.

Mr Alex Bescoby was awarded the £80,000 (K134 million) Funding Award from the Whicker’s World Foundation for his movie ‘Burma’s Lost Royals’, which he began work on in 2014.

‘Burma’s Lost Royals’ follows the direct descendants of Myanmar’s last king, Thibaw, who was ousted from the throne in 1885 by the British. He and his family, including his wife Supayalat, were exiled to Ratnagiri, India.

Although his wife returned to Burma in 1919, and died six years later, Thibaw died in exile.

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“We’re totally elated,” said Bescoby of the award. “The whole point of making this movie was to show how fascinating Myanmar’s history is. There’s a lot of international attention on the country, but a thorough understanding of the situation today is still quite limited. We wanted to show the story through these characters.”

“We really just wanted to revive the memory of Burma’s last king and remind people that his descendants are still in Myanmar. As Myanmar changes, this story doesn’t need to be hidden anymore and we wanted to get people talking about it again,” he said.

The Whicker’s World Foundation is named after British journalist Alan Whicker CBE who died in 2013.

The award was presented at the Sheffield International Documentary Festival on June 14, on the same day that a movie about a Shan prince and his Austrian wife was blocked from screening at a human rights-themed film festival in Yangon.

U Thein Naing, secretary of Myanmar’s Film Classification Board, told Frontier the screening of ‘Twilight Over Burma’ was banned “for the sake of national reconciliation”.

‘Burma’s Lost Royals’ is due for release in 2017.

By Oliver Slow

By Oliver Slow

Oliver Slow is a Southeast Asia-based journalist. He is a former Chief-of-Staff at Frontier, and is writing a book about Myanmar's transition.
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