Sunday, November 13, 2011

Burma VJ

Burma VJ is a 2008 documentary film from acclaimed filmmaker Anders Østergaard. The film follows the September 2007 uprisings by the people of Burma against the military regime ruling the country. The film follows 27-yr-old “Joshua”, a young undercover video journalist who works for Democratic Voice of Burma; DVB is a non-profit media organization based in Oslo, Norway and run by Burmese expatriates.

Until the making of Burma VJ the world had witnessed clips and news reports about the situation in Burma. But for the first time, these images have been put together to tell a much bigger story. The film offers insights into the actions and consequences of dissidence and journalism in a military-ruled state.

Risking their lives on a daily basis, the reporters in Burma VJ do what they can to capture the truth about what is happening in Burma, and make sure that the rest of world knows about it. The material they record is smuggled out of the country, broadcasted back into Burma, and offered for free to international media. Being caught with a camera is enough to be sent to prison.

Situations like the one that took place in Burma show how important local and citizens journalists can be. When foreign journalists have no access to a place or story, it is the citizens of that particular country that must take action.

Next to the importance of local journalists and citizens, the documentary also shows the incredible risk that journalist in general take day after day. At some point in Burma VJ footage is shown of a journalist being shot and killed. It is made very clear by the commentary at that moment that this journalist actually isn’t Burmese. It was later found that the man who was shot was Japanese photojournalist, Kenji Nagai. Journalists literally risk their lives in order to bring us the truth and for that they deserve an immense amount of respect.

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