Burma Vj: Reporting From A Closed Country Movie Review
The film is narrated by the 27-year-old activist Joshua, whose job as a VJ (video journalist) is to record events then smuggle the footage to the world's press by internet or satellite phone. As part of the Democratic Voice of Burma, a TV channel in exile, he is involved in covering the monks' protest in September 2007 and the government's subsequent violent crackdown. And once the monks are silenced, the government goons go after the video crew.
Some segments of this film play out more like a Blair Witch-style thriller than a doc, as the camera captures grim violence and breathy escapes (a title tells us that some footage has been recreated). But what's even more provocative and moving is the way these journalists are risking their lives to cover the story.
The monks' protest in 2007 was the first uprising against the tyrannical military junta since 1988, when 3,000 protesters were murdered and the democratically elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, was placed under house arrest, where she remains today.
Watching these scenes, which the leaders want to hide from the world, is pretty horrific. And the bravery of these young journalists is seriously inspirational, as are the monks who put their lives on the line in the name of their nation's oppressed poor. This is a country of 55 million people that the West has essentially shrugged off. And these young, tenacious journalists have one goal: to make sure the world doesn't forget about them.
As they go about their business, we really feel their fear and tenacity, as well as their hope that someday the injustice, violence and intimidation must end. It's a captivating story, filled with moments of raw horror as well as exhilarating triumph (such as when Joshua sees his footage on the BBC). And the developing story of the 2007 protests has much more texture and detail when told from this perspective, as opposed to the limited reporting we got at the time. This film can't help but inspire anyone who sees it to take action in some way.
Cast & Crew
Director : Anders Ostergaard
Producer : Lise Lense-Moller
Screenwriter : Anders Ostergaard, Jan Krogsgaard
Starring : Joshua, Ko Mauno