Prestigious award for pioneering film school

From left: Yangon Film School students Soe Arkar Htun and Lay Thida, Lindsey Merrison, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, German Praemium Imperiale Laureate Wolfgang Laib and Monika Gruetters, Germany's Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media
From left: Yangon Film School students Soe Arkar Htun and Lay Thida, Lindsey Merrison, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, German Praemium Imperiale Laureate Wolfgang Laib and Monika Gruetters, Germany's Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media

Little did film-maker Lindsey Merrison know, when she travelled to Myanmar (Burma) for the first time in 1989, that 26 years later she would be running the country’s first dedicated film school.

Yangon Film School, the organisation Lindsey set up in the country’s former capital city in 2005, has won the prestigious Japan Art Association’s 2015 Grant for Young Artists, for encouraging young people’s involvement in the arts.

Bestowed alongside the Praemium Imperiale – regarded as the ‘Nobel Prize for the arts’ – the grant is worth 5 million yen (about $41,000).

Born in Hemel Hempstead, Lindsey, who attended Longdean School, first got to know Myanmar when she visited with her mother, Sally, and then filmed the documentary Our Burmese Days.

Her work brought her into contact with creative young people desperate to learn the art of filmmaking.

In 2005, she returned to Myanmar with a group of international filmmakers to hold an inaugural workshop.

Yangon Film School now offers around 10 training courses a year in all aspects of filmmaking.

Lindsey and Yangon Film School students Lay Thida and Soe Arkar Htun were presented with the award by Hisashi Hieda, chairman of the Japan Art Association, and personally congratulated by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.