Tuesday, 26 January 2010

[294] Burma VJ (2008) Review

No grumbling, please, this is real life. Burma VJ is quite an astonishing documentary about the power of the media in the contemporary world.

One of the problems with 24-hour, constantly rolling news media is that current affairs are always in flux. By their very nature, the headlines are here today, and gone tomorrow, making way for new stories of importance - a conflict, some snow, a radio show joke gone awry. Events that seemed so engrossing one week have passed on by the next, creating, for those who have a very passive relationship with the news (a large group, probably second only to those who have no awareness of goings-on whatsoever), a landscape full of flashpoints, history defined by punctuation and not narrative.

For a number of weeks in the final quarter of 2007, Burma (or Myanmar, a politically-charged distinction that caused great debate at the time), a south-east Asian post-colonial power, was catapulted into the international spotlight by a number of large demonstrations against its military-led government, protests that focused attentions on the population's unrest, before they were dispersed with intimidation and violence.

Burma VJ is an important film. Not only is it a document of this turbulent period, but it offers insight into the empowerment offered by new media, as the film ties together footage from Burma shot by a team of undercover journalists, whose use of lightweight digital cameras, mobile phones and the Internet made it possible for reportage from the locked down country to be beamed both inside the country and throughout the world.

Read the full article here.

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