03/05/2010, 00.00
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In the race for an Oscar: Burma VJ, reporting on the revolt of the monks

In the race for an Oscar: Burma VJ, reporting on the revolt of the monks. Written and directed by a Danish director, collecting films, testimonies and dialogues captured by an "army" of reporters who work with Democratic Voice of Burma. It is in the running for the "Best Documentary". The Oscars will be awarded on 7 March.
Yangon (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The protest of the Burmese monks in 2007, violently repressed by a military dictatorship that has ruled Myanmar for 40 years is the theme of the documentary "Burma VJ" - written and directed by Danish director Anders Østergaard – which on the night of 7 March could receive the most coveted of statuettes: the work is in the race of the 82nd edition of the Oscars, for the "Best Documentary".    

Burma VJ focuses on images, testimonies, reconstructions of movies and dialogues captured by an "army of video journalists (the Burmese VJs, who inspired the title) who - risking their lives - documented the army violence against the monks and people.  

The first demonstrations began in August 2007 in Yangon, Myanmar's main city, to protest against rising prices of gasoline and fuel. The people also joined the monks (pictured), loved and revered figures throughout the country. In September, the junta unleashed a harsh crackdown that killed scores of people.    

The documentary (trailer is available on YouTube) is the result of the courage of reporters who, armed with small cameras, often hidden in backpacks or bags and risking their lives, collected evidence and filmed scenes of violence perpetrated by the military. The video journalists were working with a Burmese dissident group - Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) based in Oslo, Norway – which has over the years carefully edited and produced the documentary.  

The first part of the story is told from the perspective of Joshua, one of many DVB cameramen, later forced to flee into Thailand to escape capture in Yangon. He, from his exile, then coordinated the work of colleagues in Myanmar, collecting testimonies, dialogues, stories that make up the bulk of the documentary.    

Among the many stories told, there is the story of U Gawsita, a Buddhist monk who lives in Utica, New York, as a political refugee. In 2009, since the release of the documentary, he began receiving death threats for his involvement in the protests. After travelling tens of kilometres in the forest, he managed to cross the border into Thailand. The authorities in Bangkok did not grant him political refugee status and only the intervention of the U.S. government saved the life of the Burmese Monk.       The 82nd edition of the Academy Awards is scheduled to take place the night of 7 March at the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles. It will be presented by the U.S. comedian Steve Martin and actor Alec Baldwin. Burma VJ has been nominated for the coveted statuette in the category "Best Documentary".  


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