Saturday, October 10, 2009

Burma VJ

Sorry for the delay here! I'm kind of all over the place this weekend.

Thursday at 5:30, the documentary "Burma VJ" was shown at Katzen as part of the annual Human Rights Film Series (next week is a documentary about Wangari Maathai. Unrelated, but still cool!). I had never seen the documentary, and to be honest I think few have because only the film makers have the right to show it. In summary, it told the story of the Saffron Revolution-- from its roots in the unrest of the people caused by a wild increase in gas prices to the cataclysmic end-- from the point of view of "Joseph." He's part of the Democratic Voice of Burma, a news organization the sneaks footage out of Burma (no easy task). We never see Joseph's face, but his narration over a compilation of film paints a clear picture of his role, the role of DVB, and the role of the monks during the Saffron Revolution. Of particular interest (to me anyways) was the choice not to edit out the footage their cameras recorded while hidden in plastic bags, duffel bags, and jacket pockets.
The images were both startling and enlightening, particularly afterwords when one of the monks, U Gawasita, said that the film didn't begin to show just how bad the situation actually was. The monks explained that the monks of Burma hadn't planned on joining the sudden fervor of protests but that they joined because of their duty to the people. They further explained reasons why they thoroughly disapprove of the 2008 Constitution of Burma (and the manner in which it was passed). We (the audience) and the panel discussed topics relating to the film and Burma for about an hour-- even the translator, who was a student protester in 1988, got his two cents in.

All in all, a successful event!

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