Burma VJ is a documentary by Anders Østergaard about the 2007 popular uprising in Myanmar. Although the Myanmar government strictly prohibits journalism, a group called the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) covertly captured and smuggled video to international news outlets including BBC and NBC. This film uses DVB’s media to tell the story of the September 2007 revolt, in which 10,000+ monks protested in the streets. This film makes it abundantly clear that international awareness of Myanmar’s situation relies on the brave actions of a few dozen (or less) reporters.
The film stitches together high-def video, low-def cellphone imagery, and audio recorded on any number of devices. On several occasions, the footage comes from cameras hidden inside gym bags and purses: the scene opens with blurry images inside a purse, we hear a zipper, a flap opens, and then we see thousands of monks marching and chanting through the streets of Rangoon.
After watching this film, it’s not surprising to read today’s headline that Noble Peace Prize winner Aang Suu Kyi will be kept under house arrest. It’s also not difficult to draw parallels between Myanmar’s 2007 uprising and Iran’s recent protests; in both cases, the military won.