Founded by Anglo-Burmese filmmaker Lindsey Merrison in 2005, the Yangon Film School (YFS) is a Berlin-based non-profit organisation that was created in order to support and encourage a burgeoning community of young media workers in Myanmar. Since its first pioneering residential workshop in 2005, the trainings, and the cinematic output, have gone from strength to strength.
YFS regularly brings together experienced filmmakers from around the world and young Burmese men and women, some of whom have little or no prior experience in media, for regular film trainings in Yangon, Myanmar on all aspects of filmmaking – from screenwriting to editing.
In just six years of activity, YFS has held over 15 workshops and trained some 50 students – the majority of whom are still working in the media. These workshops have resulted in almost the same number of documentary and docufiction works. A growing number of YFS titles are being screened at international film festivals and some, such as A Sketch of Wathone, Again and Again, and A Million Threads, have even won awards.
In 2009 several YFS graduates began receiving training as tutors in their own right. They are now passing on their knowledge to incoming students.
YFS students hail from different ethnic backgrounds and all walks of life – including film, journalism, literature, photography, fine arts and IT, but also the health and development sectors. Participants have responded to YFS courses with exemplary dedication and talent, and many regard the trainings as a unique source of inspiration that provides an inestimable boost to their self-confidence.
Beginners’ courses in documentary take place every year. Candidates are welcome to submit applications on a rolling basis.
Having produced its first client piece for the international non-governmental organisation Population Services International in 2006, the YFS local film production arm Yangon Film Services regularly creates films for local and international development organisations based in Myanmar. Filmed at locations all over the country – from Kachin State in the north to the Ayeyarwaddy Delta in the south – and covering an astonishing array of topics, these works represent an invaluable tool for the promotional output and health messaging of development organisations.