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Burma VJ: Reporting from a Closed Country (2008)—BurmaBurma VJ: Reporting from a Closed Country (2008)—Burma

Burma VJ, as in video journalists from the group called Democratic Voice of Burma, was nominated for an Oscar for its gripping documentation of the 2007 pro-democracy movement under the military dictatorship in Burma. The film is essentially an only slightly edited version of sometimes crude videos that were shot by very brave, ordinary citizens, then smuggled out of the country and uploaded to the entire internet world. A man named "Joshua" ads a running commentary, much of which describes his feelings of futility. The effect is to bring the viewer about as close to the violent street protests as you would ever want to get. Of special note are the thousands of Burmese monks who took to the streets in non-violent marches, their begging bowls held upside down in symbolic defiance of any government help. Although the videos gone viral spread news about the unrest in Burma to the entire world, the film shows how the military might of the government has so far crushed popular opposition, and so this documentary delivers equal parts of inspiration and deep sadness.

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