Monday, March 15, 2010

Burma VJ at Patois International Human Rights Film Fest

Posted By on Mon, Mar 15, 2010 at 6:42 PM

Since 1962, Burma has been under the control of a military junta and has been one of the most isolated nations in the world. During an uprising in fall 2007, foreign press was expelled from the country. A group of ad hoc journalists filmed the turmoil and smuggled footage out of the country, some of it via the Internet and some of it over the border to Thailand. It was then transmitted to Norway and released to media outlets around the world. The riveting Oscar-nominated film Burma VJ follows the protests from the compiled footage of the group, known as Democratic Voice of Burma. Reporters caught with handcams were jailed as political instigators. But many continued to risk their lives (one Japanese photographer was shot by the Burmese military) and freedom. (A pro-democracy protest movement in 1988 was met with a violent crackdown, and government troops killed an estimated 3,000 demonstrators.) This film zeroes in on the decision of Burmese monks to take to the streets in peaceful protest. The government immediately deployed troops to stop the marches. The tension builds as the protesters and the government each weigh how far they will push the other side. And the reporters weigh what risks they will take to film it. The film screens at Zeitgeist at 7 p.m. Tuesday as part of the Patois International Human Rights Film Fest.

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