They Call It Myanmar: Lifting The Curtain - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

They Call It Myanmar: Lifting The Curtain Reviews

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March 26, 2015
Extraordinary movie, the best we have seen in a long long time!!!!
Super Reviewer
November 23, 2013
We are given a gentle, touching narrative of the Myanmar people, largely a Buddhist nation which had an authoritarian government and lacks severely in education and human rights. Many children who were asked said they only had 1 or 2 years of school. No one can afford it. Child labor and the trafficking of young girls is heavy. And as in other countries in the area, there are hundreds of cultures and many different languages. It is hard to bring a country together that has so many different ethnicities, cultures, and potentially values. We get an informative glimpse at the past 80 years of Myanmar's history, environmental challenges, living conditions, and citizen's perspectives. My main complaint with this documentary may be an unjust one, but it felt a bit limited in the same way that a person's vacation footage only narrowly covers the country they explored. But since cameras were forbidden during the time of this production, the limitation is understandable, and Director Lieberman does provide a nice interview with an admirable and hopeful voice of democracy - only this politician, Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, had been under house arrest for 15 years at the time of the film's production. Since then, some promising governmental moves have taken place and she has been released and elected into parliament. Her party, National League for Democracy, won 43 of the 45 seats available during the 2012 by-elections, after being unbanned just the year before.
½ March 12, 2013
An insightful documentary into Burma, "They Call It Myanmar" provides an in-depth look into the daily lives of this most reclusive Southeast Asian nation. It shows how, despite the hardship and political oppression, the people of Burma are able to withstand all that with a smile. And at the end of the documentary, the audience are left not just to wonder about whether the Burmese people have gotten enough help from Western countries. We are also left with a hope, because even in the darkest of places, there are communities and groups of people who can always find a reason to smile.
February 17, 2013
fascinating, heartbreaking
January 30, 2013
Excellent overview of a wonderful people and beautiful country. Some of the things in the film are already dated, because much has changed over the past couple of years. However, the core issues raised about education, healthcare, and poverty are still highly relevant. The historical background on Burma and the overview of Burmese Buddhism is also great.

I only wish the author could have spent more time investigating and reporting on the even more desperate plight of the ethnic minorities - the Chin, Kachin, etc.
December 2, 2012
A well-balanced documentary of a beautiful country, with beautiful people. Not overly political or sensationalized, and covers the geography, culture, religion, politics and realities of a country that we really know little about. It's now on my list of places to travel to.
½ April 9, 2012
A comprehensive tour of Burma shot by someone in the country to consult on making TV commercials. Lieberman risks imprisonment by shooting video and doing interviews throughout the military ruled country.

While never dwelling on any topic, except poverty, this piece gives an overview of the conditions within this isolated country. It explores their religious beliefs, their education system, their cultural treasures and the misguided nature of their military regime. The interviews are surprising (and conceal the identities of those who speak) in that these topics are just never spoken of in their country.

But there is little here that calls for action and no solutions are suggested. It is a time capsule, not a politically motivated piece, which saps a lot of the fire behind the idea of clandestine filming.
March 22, 2012
Excellent portrait of a people, their beautiful country and culture.
½ March 4, 2012
Filming surreptitiously, Robert Lieberman has made a film that tells the story of Myanmar (which the British called Burma) today with images that are in turn beautiful and appalling and stories of individuals that are compelling. Myanmar is an exotic but isolated country that has suffered from decades of misrule and international isolation. Lieberman helps the viewer understand the people, history and current situation in Myanmar -- and to care about what comes next to these wonderful people in a benighted country. And he does so with great story telling craft. This is a documentary that will satisfy those who know a lot about Myanmar and fascinate those who know nothing about it. It is, in short, a must see.
Super Reviewer
½ March 1, 2012
Robert Lieberman, a physics professor at Cornell University, is given a grant from the State Department and various NGO's to go to Burma to train people in technical matters. While there, and at no small risk to himself, he uses a video camera to film. With his footage and commentary from people who are very familiar with the country, he compiles a documentary, "They Call It Myanmar," which is insightful, yet occasionally repetitive, going beyond just a simple travelogue of the tourist sights to talk to ordinary people in what has been termed the second most reclusive country on the planet.(One would have to guess that North Korea is #1.) This is due to a military government that has ruled over the country for about the past fifty years, without the usual cult of personality, causing Burma to stagnate into a state of decay where the infrastructure crumbles and social institutions including health care and education, as children usually complete about a year of education before going off to support their families, have become too expensive for the common person to utilize.(Even in times of greatest need like a cyclone a few years ago that killed over 100,000 people, they have kept the country isolated, not accepting outside aide, in order to maintain their power in the 'kleptocracy.') As a result, the more educated people leave the country, while others do so but not of their own choosing.

Lieberman also spends a good deal of time exploring religion in this devoutly Buddhist country and uses it to explain the reaction to the monks being attacked by government troops a few years ago. At the same time, he uses the people's supposedly fatalistic attitudes in explaining why they have not risen up to rebel. In reality, most societies, even those repressive like Burma's, exist firmly rooted in a status quo until a spark sets them off. At least there are signs that things are starting to turn around politically since Lieberman is able to talk to Aung San Suu Kyi who was under house arrest for decades.
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