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Customer Review

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Young Filmmakers Risk Their Lives for Peaceful Change in "Burma VJ", June 23, 2010
This review is from: Burma VJ: Reporting from a Closed Country (DVD)
As a journalist who has reported from Asia and understands the life-and-death pressures in Burma (or Myanmar), I highly recommending this new-to-DVD documentary. "Burma VJ" is essential viewing for anyone concerned about grassroots peacemaking, powerful new-media tools and the awe-inspiring courage that religious convictions can fuel in ordinary men and women. We've all seen far too much TV footage of homicidal suicide bombers--religious fervor fueling the destruction of innocent lives. In "Burma VJ," we see ordinary men and women courageously risking and sometimes sacrificing their own lives on behalf of peace.

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. After decades of severe repression, poverty and the constant threat of random arrest, torture, imprisonment and even death--for the people of Burma to peacefully protest against their military government takes incredible courage. We learn that two decades ago, the last time large-scale protests were launched, the effort ended when 3,000 innocents were gunned down in the streets. You'll learn about what happened to the 2007 protests in this film.

For a talented young man or young woman to take a small video camera and become an illegal Video Journalist, a "VJ," takes almost a crazy kind of faith and courage. For these young people to film police brutality against monks, for example, could be a ticket to torture and death. But, inspired by their Buddhist practice, dozens of VJs captured shocking scenes during street protests in 2007.

You may be asking: Why not just turn away? Can such a documentary accomplish any good? Over and over again in this film, the young journalists of Burma voice the one question that haunts their sleepless nights: Will anyone care? If we risk our lives to smuggle this footage out of Burma, will anyone watch? Fortunately, the VJs found a valuable friend in Scandinavian filmmaker Anders Østergaard, who finally pulled this documentary together for them. And, if you watch their film--and spread the word--then they've found a friend in you, too.
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Location: Canton, Michigan

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