Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Video Journalists of Burma
Anders Østergaard, Khin Maung Win, Interview by Liza Bear
BURMA VJ: Reporting from a Closed Country , directed by Danish filmmaker Anders Østergaard uses camcorder and cellphone footage from undercover DVB reporters risking their lives. The story of the brutal quelling of the September 2007 monks' uprising is narrated by an unseen protagonist, Joshua, a 27-year-old reporter exiled in Thailand.
Background--Burma, September 2007: An increase in fuel prices sparks extensive protests by students and activists against the military junta, a repressive regime that has held the country hostage for over 40 years. For the first time, they are joined in the streets of Rangoon by thousands of Buddhist monks (the saffron revolution). As the ranks of the protestors rise to 100,000, foreign news crews are banned and the internet is shut down. The Democratic Voice of Burma, a collective of 30 underground video journalists (VJs) record these dramatic events on handycams and cellphones and smuggle the footage out of the country, broadcasting it worldwide from Norway via satellite. Risking torture and life imprisonment, the VJs document the brutal clashes by the military and undercover police and the violence committed on the monks— themselves also becoming the targets of the authorities.
A Sundance and Berlin festival award winner, the film opens May 20 at the Film Forum, New York in this its theatrical premiere.