Burma VJ: Reporting from a Closed Country
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On another note, the footage in the film is incredible. The journalists used primarily handheld Sony videocameras, often hidden in bags in order to evade military spies. Yet, they filmed some incredible moments. Much of their documentation was fed to the international media and made headlines in September 2007. However, Burma VJ shows uncut versions of those scenes. Some of the images, such as the massive crowds cheering on the monks as they sang Robin Hood-esque songs, brought tears to my eyes. What those journalists did was incredibly brave, and unfortunately some of them lost their freedom in their attempt to tell the truth about Burma. This film is a wonderful testament to their courage.
If you're not as familiar with Burma, you might want to check out Beyond Rangoon, a historical fiction about the 1988 protests, for some background before you go.
If Burma VJ is playing in a theater near you, definitely check it out. Hopefully it will show in a general release or be issued on DVD soon.
You will recognize some of the footage if you were watching the news on Burma at the time. The VJ's in this film were the ones that smuggled footage to western news agencies.
The bulk of the film takes place during the Saffron Revolution. In the footage you can feel the nervousness of the people, the fear of being disappeared. And then the most incredible acts of defiance in the face of almost certain death. This film made me cry a couple times and tears don't come easily to me. The film is narrated throughout and you empathize with the frustration of the narrator because as the audience we are as powerless to stop the killing as he is. This film stands as a testimony to their lives as well as the monks and activists that are currently locked up in secret prisons and executed.
You need to watch this film.
This is what Democracy looks like.
One wonders: Why do these people do it? Their chance of peacefully toppling the ruthless military government of Burma/Myanmar is slim. In fact, as you know before you even watch this film, the protesters did not succeed in the 2007 movement. So, why even atempt this challenge? The question is answered by one of the young filmmakers in "Burma VJ" who dares to shoot footage of Buddhist monks attacked by thugs from the military dictatorship. Why do these monks inspire this young man? He answers: "They are acting out of their knowledge of history. They are not acting out of anger."
Stunning. Their faith is unshakeable in its assumption that goodness will prevail. If not 20 years ago in the last major protests, if not in the 2007 protests--then in the next wave they are organizing secretly even as you read this review. And we're not talking about mere risks. Toward the end of the film, your heart will break in a scene that was carried by news networks around the world: a beaten monk's body drifting away in a river.Read more ›
After watching the movie, I felt so much more educated about the subject. I wanted to learn more about it, and I wanted my mom and the rest of my huge family to watch it. I told everyone about it, and it was definitely my favorite documentary at SXSW 2009...and probably of the whole year. I'm so glad that it received an Oscar nomination, and I really think it should have won.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This documentary offers an astonishing inside look into the 2007 "Saffron Revolution" in Myanmar through the cameras of the independent journalist group, Democratic Voice of Burma. Read morePublished on March 4, 2013 by Gus Venegas
I guess I'll get used to it, but having this film on my computer is not as convenient as having it on a portable disc. I plan to download it myself.Published on January 1, 2013 by Linda R. Weltner
Probably a great movie, but made the mistake of paying USD10 for this movie using the Amazon Instant Video App. Read morePublished on October 31, 2012 by WW
Atrocities are prevalent throughout the world and some get more attention than others. I've read the other reviews, and am compelled to add my 5-stars. Read morePublished on January 21, 2011 by R. Gawlitta
A must see for those who want to understand what is happening in Burma and the extent to which people are risking their lives for personal freedom from a dictatorial and paranoid... Read morePublished on December 21, 2010 by margaret b. pierce
This has been an invaluable resource in our community as we have many refugees from Burma! It does not depict every day life as we had hoped but it does depict the turmoil they... Read morePublished on November 29, 2010 by Leslie
Here are religious leaders who evidently care about their people. Rather than continue to stay out of politics, Buddhist monks and nuns suffer torture and even death to protest... Read morePublished on October 8, 2010 by Jenny