Yesterday evening I attended a meet-and-greet at HBO headquarters for Burma VJ, a doc by Danish director Anders Ostergaard. A portrait of bravery and spirit in the face of repression, it portrays the 2007 “Saffron Revolution” in Burma/Myanmar through smuggled footage taken by Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), the independent journalist group.
At yesterday evening’s HBO party for Burma VJ, three Burmese Monks who led ’07’s Saffron Revolution (l. to r.) — Venerable U Agga Nyana, Venerable U Pyinar Zawta, and Venerable U Gawsita.
Burma VJ director Anders Ostergaard.
Oscilloscope Laboratories is theatrically releasing the much-praised, award-wnning doc throughout the summer (including a 5.20 booking at Manhattan’s Film Forum and a 5.27 one at L.A.’s Sunset 5). HBO will begin airing it in early 2010, presumably in concert with some Best Feature Doc Oscar momentum.
I spoke with Ostergaard as well as David Fenkle, partner and co-founder of Oscilloscope Pictures, but my recordings of both conversations are muddy sounding due to party noise, especially the one with Ostergaard. But you can make some of it out.
Fenkle’s view, boiled down, is that Burma VJ, which yesterday won the Golden Gate Award for best investigative documentary at the San Francisco Film Festival, has an excellent shot at being remembered come Oscar time given (a) the quality and (b) the incredible personal bravery that went into shooting and smuggling out the footage.
The 2007 Burmese anti-government protests (a.k.a., the Saffron Revolution) began on 8.15.07. They happened due to “the unannounced decision of the ruling junta to remove fuel subsidies which caused the price of diesel and petrol to suddenly rise as much as 66%, and the price of compressed natural gas for buses to increase fivefold in less than a week,” according to a Wikipedia account.