Burma VJ: Reporting From A Closed Country
Directed by Anders Østergaard
Opening in Calgary – February 12, 2010
The Uptown – 612 8th Ave. S.W. – 403-265-0120
RT: 85 minutes
Language: Burmese | English (subtitled in English)
Directed by Anders Østergaard
Written by Anders Østergaard, Jan Krogsgaard
Produced by Lise-Lense Møller
Assistant Producer Cecilia Valsted
Cinematography by Simon Plum & The Burmese VJs
Edited by Janus Billeskov-Jansen, Thomas Papapetros
Sound Designer Martin Hennel
Music by Conny Malmqvist
View trailer | website: http://www.burmavj.com/
(Toronto – February 4, 2010) – The plight and spirit of the Burmese people is being acknowledged in front of an audience of a billion people and all of Hollywood.
A powerful documentary about the life-or-death struggle for truth under martial law, Burma VJ: Reporting from a Closed Country has been honoured with a nomination for Best Documentary Feature at the 2010 Academy Awards.
The movie, which chronicles the risky activities of the independent journalist group Democratic Voice of Burma, capturing the brutal reality of life under the country’s secretive military regime, has won myriad awards since its Canadian premiere at Hot Docs last year. It is scheduled to open in Calgary, pre-Oscars.
While 100,000 people (including 1,000s of Buddhist monks) took to the streets to protest the country’s repressive regime that has held them hostage for over 40 years, foreign news crews were banned to enter and the Internet was shut down. The Democratic Voice of Burma, a collective of 30 anonymous and underground video journalists (VJs) recorded these historic and dramatic events on handycams and smuggled the footage out of the country, where it was broadcast worldwide via satellite.
Risking torture and life imprisonment, the VJs vividly document the brutal clashes with the military and undercover police – even after they themselves become targets of the authorities.
About Anders Østergaard
Anders made his first big impression on Danish cinemagoers in 2006 with Gasolin’, a documentary about a singularly popular Danish rock band from the 1970s. Though Gasolin’, fronted by charismatic singer Kim Larsen, never gained a following outside Scandinavia, in Denmark they enjoyed years of Beatles-like stardom. Following its 1978 break-up, the group became part of the Danish cultural heritage. The Gasolin’ film drew 223,000 Danes to cinemas, an exceptionally high number, not just for a documentary but by any standard.
Mixing documentary footage with staged shots has been a hallmark of Østergaard’s films almost from the beginning. A rare exception was Gensyn med Johannesburg (1996). In this relatively conventional documentary, Østergaard follows the Danish filmmaker Henning Carlsen on a trip to South Africa to revisit some of the people who appeared in Carlsen’s Dilemma, a pioneering 1961 docudrama based on a novel by Nadine Gordimer and shot without the consent of the South African authorities.
Østergaard, born in 1965, graduated from the Danish School of Journalism in 1991, and his list accomplishments and achievements include Best Documentary at Odense International Film Festival in 1999 for The Magus; writer-director of the international awarded Tintin et moi (2003), and the documentary Gasolin (2006) had the successful run ever at domestic box offices with 223,000 admissons. Burma VJ (2008) was selected for Joris Ivens Competition and Movies That Matter, IDFA, Amsterdam; and Sä kort og mærkeligt livet er, about the Danish poet Dan Turèll, was selected for the opening gala at CPH:DOX.
BURMA VJ: REPORTING FROM A CLOSED COUNTRY is being released in Canada by KINOSMITH INC., an independent Canadian film distribution & marketing company founded in February 2007 by distribution veteran Robin Smith. With a mandate to bring critically-acclaimed Canadian and international films to audiences across the country, the company has distributed over 120 feature films in the last three years as well as providing marketing advice to completed films and productions in development. Current KINOSMITH releases include: Chris Smith’s Collapse; Prom Night In Mississippi; When We Were Boys; Good Hair; Zooey & Adam; Three Blind Mice; Taqwacore: The Birth of Punk Islam; Enlighten Up!; Delta, Unmistaken Child, and the Foreign Language Oscar Winner – Departures. Upcoming releases include: Last Train Home; Passenger Side; Pax Americana; and Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel.