International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Film Review: Burma VJ

Film Review:  Burma VJ
by Claire Kim

During modern times, there are many people who think that technology is affecting society in a negative way. These people see technology as a force that is creating a tight grip on the lives of people, intellectually, emotionally, and socially. But the documentary, Burma VJ, shows a different side and use for modern technology that leaves the viewers reevaluating the importance of new technology.

The documentary shows the Southeast Nation of Burma during the famous Buddhist monk revolt, as well as clips of violent acts committed by police and other military officials to citizens and foreign journalists. This documentary was filmed by video journalists of Burma, the “VJ’s” of Burma VJ.

While the official state media of the country ignored the revolts, members of the Democratic Voice of Burma (the Burma VJ’s), began to film the 100,000 people that joined to revolt against their oppressive and violent government in 2007. These young video journalists were able to film bits and pieces of the revolt with hand held video cameras and phone cameras. This footage was then smuggled out of the country, either manually or through the internet and passed on to colleagues that were in the nearby country of Thailand. From Thailand, the footage was handed off to world news organizations to spread the news on the political state of Burma.

Through watching real phone conversations held by the journalists, the viewer feels the urgency and danger of the political situation in Burma. The volatile political leadership in the country is also shown through the business of having to send the footage outside of the country. The fact that these young video journalists of Burma are putting their lives in danger to give information on their country's situation is actively shown through the nerve-wracking and darting camera work. The viewer then feels the urgency and importance of these video clippings with the stressed narration by “Joshua” a key member of the Democratic Voice of Burma. Overall, this documentary is able to convey the lives of the oppressed people of Burma, while also showing the fight for freedom led by the Buddhist monks of the country.

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