Who knew a feature length film could successfully tell a story through hidden camera footage, blurry images & reenactments? Not to mention a film in which the central character’s face is never revealed? I might have been skeptical before, but not after watching Burma VJ.
Readers who know my involvement with Burmese groups might question my biases, but indeed, I went into the film a skeptic. The subject matter is close to me – I know monks who helped organize the protests of September 2007, the central events of the film. I’ve interviewed and befriended people who fled the country following the crackdown, activists who left behind their families, know others who gave their lives. And so I went into the film with a hope and a fear – hope for the film’s power to raise awareness about a story so important to me, and fear that the film might not adequately tell the story.
How rewarding for my fear to slip away within the first few minutes of the film. Burma VJ elegantly tells the story of the September protests and the video-journalists who documented it. It deserves the awards it’s been getting from Working Films, Full Frame, Sundance and others.
Burma VJ opened Wednesday, May 20 at Film Forum in Manhattan. Check them out and find a way to see the film this summer. You should not miss it.
Of note – Film Forum will be playing Agnès Varda’s The Beaches of Agnès this summer, another one that I anticipate to be a must-see. Varda, in addition to being the “grandmother of French New Wave cinema” also inspired this blog title with her film Les Glaneurs et La Glaneuse – The Gleaners and I.