Saturday, June 6, 2009

Burma VJ at Film Forum

After a steak and fries breakfast this morning, we headed to the Film Forum. Film Forum began in 1970 as an alternative space for independent films, with 50 folding chairs and one projector in a rented loft on West 88th Street (sounds like our kind of place).

Its current location is on Houston Street between 6th and Varick and is a three-screen cinema house showing American and foreign art and independent films covering social, political, historical and cultural topics. With regards to documentaries, Film Forum carefully selects those that have relevance to today's world. Film Forum is the only non-profit cinema in New York City and one of few in the U.S. - this is amazing considering how many art houses have closed down. There's nothing fancy and refreshingly nothing pretentious about film forum - decently sized screens and small uncomfortable seats, and a place that just happens to sell delicious cookies.

The three films they're currently showing are Unmistaken Child, Rashomon and Burma VJ. They all have limited engagement (about two weeks). We're planning to see Kurosawa's Rashomon before it closes on June 11th but we've already seen it so we had to see Burma VJ - Reporting from a Closed Country yesterday first.

In September 2007, 100,000 people, including 1,000 Buddhist Monks, protested the oppressive Burma regime. No one was allowed to film the protests and internet was shut down, but the Democratic Voice of Burma, which consisted of 30 anonymous underground video journalists recorded the images of the brutal clashes with the military and undercover police and smuggled the footage out of the country to give a voice to their people around the world. These extremely brave people risked their lives and life-in-prison. The images are infuriating and heartbreaking. The conclusion is downright frustrating. Watch the trailer.

Burma VJ is highly recommended. People risked their lives for "the cause" and to be able to live without fear and fight for the kind of freedom and free speech us Americans take for granted. After watching this film, you will feel blessed living in the kind of country we live in.