Anders Østergaard's award-winning documentary shows a rare inside look into the 2007 uprising in Myanmar through the cameras of the independent journalist group, Democratic Voice of Burma.
Risking torture and life imprisonment, the VJs vividly document the brutal clashes with the military and undercover police - even after they themselves become targets of the authorities.
Let me put this into perspective of how powerful this film is. People died to give you this footage. This isn't an indie film crew trying to do a story on the Burmese in the safety of the local Holiday Inn. This is Burmese citizens facing fear of death every day to bring you the truth.
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.
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 face on a daily basis and why it is they flee the oppressive government. Many in our community have viewed it and it has opened up conversations for not only our community organizations but Burmese families and refugees.
Probably a great movie, but made the mistake of paying USD10 for this movie using the Amazon Instant Video App. Turned out to be a waste of time and money, as I was only able to download 50% of the movie and then it froze. Tried everything, but haven't been able to continue the download, and am therefore unable to watch this movie... very disappointed with Amazon Instant Video :(
I had the chance to see this movie when it went on tour and stopped in my city. I loved it. It is an extremely well-made documentary, but, oddly enough, seems more like an dramatic movie than a documentary. It follows several undercover journalists in the military dictatorship of Burma. The film follows them as they document the anti-government protests that took place in 2007 (also known as the "Saffron Revolution"). The film keeps a quick pace and I actually found it quite suspenseful, even though the events took place over two years ago. The viewer is never sure whether the journalists will successfully evade arrest or even survive their next encounter. For those viewers not as familiar with the events of the Saffron Revolution, I expect the film will be all the more exciting.
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.