Burma VJ: Reporter i et Lukket Land (Burma VJ: Reporting from a Closed Country) Reviews

Page 1 of 8
gor41
Super Reviewer
½ August 17, 2010
Gripping
Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
May 24, 2009
[font=Century Gothic]"Burma VJ" is a riveting documentary about the Democratic Voice of Burma, a courageous group of volunteer video journalists whose mission is to take videos of their native country of Burma which are then smuggled out to the rest of the world to counter the propaganda of the oppressive military rulers. What the documentary also does is shine a light on a country little is known of and put the momentous events of August and September 2007 in perspective when after decades of silence, ordinary citizens begin speaking their minds again when gas prices are doubled. A videographer codenamed 'Joshua' covers a singular demonstration but is arrested. He is later released but has his camera confiscated. Fearing for his safety, he crosses the border into Thailand to coordinate activities for his fellow video journalists by cell phone.(The footage of Joshua in Thailand is reenacted in order to link the amazing footage and to create a narrative of the protests.) While busy, he is also sorry to be missing the action once the Buddhist monks join the protests, putting the military regime in danger. The video journalists take center stage as their footage is the only available shown worldwide as foreign journalists are banned from Burma. They also advise the monks with the protests. For the first time since 1988, the possibility of democracy and freedom become very real again. In the end, patience becomes key.[/font]
Super Reviewer
½ January 3, 2010
Burma is the land that everyone knows has some issues. It is also the East Timor of the current generation. A military occupation that hardly receives a blip of media attention or celebrity advocacy.
June 28, 2010
This is a riveting documentary that is specifically low key in its intent but huge on impact in just the nature of what the subjects are doing, and that what you are seeing can mean life or death for them. We hear of journalists being killed all the time covering news that needs to be covered. Here, the tragic execution of Kenji Nagai is captured and really brings the understanding of what the Burmese people are trying to do to make sure the world knows the struggles in that country. From the moment you first hear about the arrests, to the death of Nagai to the raiding of the offices and the subtle but incredibly touching message that contradicts what is they have been trying to do, which is get as much of the news captured as possible, and to hear the fellow journalist telling the one still in Burma to just run and be safe when the army is right in front of him is hugely emotional.

And the movie is probably even more impactful about the slaughter of the innocent than something like the Cove not just because it is people, but because they dead are completely non-violent monks who live by tradition and worship and stand up for the people in the most courageous of ways. It is further proof that Buddhist Monks are the true heroes of humanity.
May 8, 2010
A gripping documentary Underground journalism at its best! Who doubts a single individual can make a political impact?
February 10, 2010
Anders Østergaard?s award-winning documentary shows a rare inside look into the 2007 uprising in Myanmar through the cameras of the independent journalist group, Democratic Voice of Burma.

While 100,000 people (including 1,000s of Buddhist monks) took to the streets to protest the country's repressive regime that has held them hostage for over 40 years, foreign news crews were banned to enter and the Internet was shut down. The Democratic Voice of Burma, a collective of 30 anonymous and underground video journalists (VJs) recorded these historic and dramatic events on handycams and smuggled the footage out of the country, where it was broadcast worldwide via satellite. Risking torture and life imprisonment, the VJs vividly document the brutal clashes with the military and undercover police ? even after they themselves become targets of the authorities.
February 3, 2010
Anders Østergaard?s award-winning documentary shows a rare inside look into the 2007 uprising in Myanmar through the cameras of the independent journalist group, Democratic Voice of Burma.

While 100,000 people (including 1,000s of Buddhist monks) took to the streets to protest the country's repressive regime that has held them hostage for over 40 years, foreign news crews were banned to enter and the Internet was shut down. The Democratic Voice of Burma, a collective of 30 anonymous and underground video journalists (VJs) recorded these historic and dramatic events on handycams and smuggled the footage out of the country, where it was broadcast worldwide via satellite. Risking torture and life imprisonment, the VJs vividly document the brutal clashes with the military and undercover police ? even after they themselves become targets of the authorities.
April 2, 2010
In 1988, a student led demonstration was brutally crushed by the Myanmar government. Over 3000 people were killed in the demonstrations. In 2007, the people of Burma started another demonstration to protest the oppressive Myanmar regime. Video journalists captured the struggle on handheld cameras, putting their lives in danger. The brutal dictatorship relies on strict control to maintain its authority. The movie shows how difficult maintaining a demonstration can be. ?Burma VJ? illustrates the difficulty of changing an oppressive regime. The international community is aware of the problems in Burma, but does not seem capable of doing anything about it. The efforts of the VJ were not in vain. Ordinary citizens have started to release videos from within the country to the outside world.
½ February 17, 2013
A doc. about brave reporters in Burma that risk their lives to get the truth out about the brutality of the police state.
November 12, 2012
A film I really liked until I thought a bit about it and which I still want to like. This film is so stuffed with recreated and redramatized scenes that it's a bit difficult to take seriously as a documentary. So heavily edited to stay on a very specific message, but still leaving tons of interesting (and obvious) questions not only unanswered but unasked, I found it to be one of the most disappointing films on Burma I've seen to date.
August 16, 2012
Powerful. Wonderful coverage of a truly brave social movement. Inspires hope!
½ April 14, 2012
excellent and a powerful reminder of times past in burma
½ July 4, 2011
Surreptitious amateur video photographers risk their lives to document human rights abuses in Burma. A documentary that makes you glad to be somewhere else.
½ August 26, 2011
"Burma VJ: Reporting from a Closed Country" is a fascinating and powerful documentary that shows the dangers of censorship and why we need the freedom of speech. It is a very tense and thrilling movie with real footage mixed with recreated events in the way it is being told by "Josh".
½ April 18, 2011
I was Burmese video journalist for 90 minutes.
May 21, 2011
An extremely powerful film. "The Cove" won the Oscar for best documentary in 2009, I haven't seen it yet, I'm not sure if it could top this. I'll be seeing "Bridesmaids" later today just slightly different mood I'm sure.
½ March 14, 2011
This is the closest you'll ever be to being inside a suppressive military regime without actually being in one. Through real footage, showing step by step how an uprising comes together in a policed state of fear and control, Burma VJ is a frightening look at at small group trying to broadcast to the world what is secretly happening in the suppressed country. This film will make you appreciate the simple freedoms we take for granted in most of the rest of the world, and will hopefully drive the rest of the world to do something about this situation that still continues in Burma today.
½ January 7, 2011
One of the most powerful documentaries I've seen. An extremely courageous account of journalists trying to show the world the evils of Burma's governement, in a country void of human rights
½ November 1, 2010
Freedom Will Out

When I was in high school, I was in a program called Academic Decathlon, because I was a big, big nerd. One of the ten competitive categories is called Super Quiz. Every year, they choose a subject, and you learn a whole bunch of stuff about whatever-it-is. You then stand up in front of a huge audience along with everyone else in your grade division (that's letter grade, not age) and answer ten questions. Everyone who gets all ten right gets a gold, nine right gets a silver, and eight right gets a bronze. This is not as easy as it sounds; the questions are hard and often on pretty obscure stuff. Ask Mrs. Nicholson, my old coach, about "Operation Marigold" some time, if you want to see a blood vessel burst in her head. But when I was a junior, the category was Documents of Freedom. I don't now remember which document we were intended to read, but one of the authors was Aung San Suu Kyi, Burmese political prisoner and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. And that is how I learned about Burmese oppression.

Mind you, I still didn't know that it was as bad as this. It seems essentially illegal in Burma to own a video camera. And while you may think, hey, no boring home movies to sit through, it is also the case that the ruling junta controls all footage taken in the country. In theory, this prevents news of exactly how oppressive they are from reaching the world out large. Some of the people who took some of the footage (is there a word for footage taken on digital cameras?) are in prison and were, at the time the film was made, expected to serve life sentences. The documentary captures one of, it seems to be, many periods of civil unrest in the country, specifically in Rangoon. Buddhist monks are protesting, the belief being that no one will dare interfere with them.

Which brings me to a Disturbing Images Alert. I'm not sure I've ever issued one before. IMDB has no parents' guide on this one. This is doubtless because parents' guides are made by regular old IMDB users, and most of the people who write them probably either don't know this movie exists or believe that no child old enough to sit through this documentary would be young enough to be covered by a parents' guide. And thus there is no warning that I know of that you will, in this, see footage of the body of one of those monks, face-down and dead in a stream. It may well be one of the monks interviewed earlier in the movie, or at least one of the monks whose face is seen. I have seen documentaries with images of the dead in them before. Someone who watches as many Holocaust documentaries as I must have done, really. However, you think to yourself, "Well, how bad can it be? I'm a reasonably informed American, and I would have heard about it if people were being taken away and killed."

But the other thing those Holocaust documentaries have taught me is that being a Man of the Cloth, be it black with a white collar or saffron, is no protection. Unfortunately, once repression reaches a certain point, even those once considered inviolate are no longer safe. We see a Buddhist monastery which the military broke into, driving a truck inside. The night before, a monk tells us, there were over two hundred of them. Now, a scant few dozen are left. We later find out that even those have been taken away after the journalist left, and it is after that when the message arrives that the body has been found. The monks have led the protest. When a lone Buddhist monk set himself on fire to protest the Vietnam War, it was a huge deal. That hundreds could just be taken away in the night seems like something we in this country should have heard about, but you know, there was that whole Larry Craig thing going on. There was lead paint in our toys. The iPod touch came out, people! The fact that a government was arresting monks in a way that violated all custom hardly mattered relative to the fact that it looked like O. J. Simpson was really going to go to prison this time.

Gwen's father, when asked how he pronounces "Myanmar," said "Burma." This turns out to get into a whole huge mess of sociopolitical complications. Also linguistic ones. The junta officially wants everyone who speaks English to use their preferred versions of things. (Hence "Yangon," apparently, not "Rangoon.") It does actually seem that those opposed to the junta tend to oppose the name "Myanmar" as well. There are also all sorts of complicated details having to do with the dominant ethnic group of the nation, and it seems that using the word is at least in part intended to cover up the fact that the junta is hoping to sort of ease the other ethnic groups out of existence. It also seems that the choices of the junta's committee on the subject don't reliably make sense on a purely linguistic level, being contradictory at best. Quick, [i]you[/i] decide what "citizens of Myanmar" should be called!
Page 1 of 8