Oscar Hope High for 'Burma VJ'

By THE IRRAWADDY Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The documentary “Burma VJ” is in the running for an Oscar for best feature-documentary at the 82nd Annual Academy Awards show which will be broadcast worldwide on Sunday night in the United States.

“If “Burma VJ” receives the Oscar, it will be the first time in history that a whole nation's population will receive the Oscar,” said Jan Krogsgaard, the originator and scriptwriter of the film. “I think even the generals of Burma would like to see this happen, deep inside themselves, and find peace within their own life.”

A monk at a protest in Burma is recorded by a member of a group of clandestine journalists.

Burma VJ: Reporting from a Closed Country” tells the story of how Burmese video journalists took to the streets and filmed the September 2007 mass demonstrations in Rangoon. It is among five documentaries nominated this year.

Other nominees are “The Cove,” about a hidden dolphin slaughter in a Japanese town; “Food, Inc.,” a story of the horrors of factory farms, slaughterhouses and meat plants in the US; “The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers,” the story of a high-level Pentagon official and Vietnam War strategist who in 1971 concluded that the war was based on decades of lies and leaked top secret documents to The New York Times; and “Which Way Home,” a film that follows unaccompanied child migrants on their journey through Mexico as they try to reach the United States.

Burma VJ” has already won 33 awards—including World Cinema Documentary Film Editing and Golden Gate Persistence of Vision prizes.

Most of the material for the film was shot by Burmese video journalists at great personal risk and smuggled out of the country to the Norway-based Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB). A Danish professional film-maker, Anders Østergaard, directed the film, which was released to wide acclaim this year.

In an interview on the Oscar official Web site, producer Lise Lens-Moller said: “Burma had almost vanished from the global consciousness when we started working on the film in 2004 and the VJ's main motivation for risking their lives and their freedom everyday was to try and bring attention to their situation. I hope the Oscar nomination will keep the Burmese people's struggle alive and supported around the world.”

The live announcement of the Oscar winner will attract Burmese communities around the world.

“It must be a historical milestone,” said Khin Maung Win, the deputy executive director of the Democratic Voice of Burma. “Even if Burma VJ does not win the prize, the film will bring attention to our democracy movement.”

Related article: Behind the Lens


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