Films: Burma: A Human Tragedy

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Burma: A Human Tragedy

Burma: A Human Tragedy

USA, 2011, 85 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Documentary, Political, Social Issues
Program: Documentary Films
Language: English

DIRECTOR: Neil Hollander
Producer: Sabrina Chen Louie
Editor: Brendan Broman
Principal Cast: Anjelica Huston (Narrator)

Watcher beware: grisly scenes abound in this well-crafted documentary that shows in shocking detail what life has been like for millions of Burmese families over the past 60 years. The world’s 40th largest country, with a population of more than 55 million, Burma is rich in natural resources, including gold, jade, diamonds, and opium-producing poppies. Yet only a privileged few live in opulent luxury, while the majority are essentially imprisoned in their own country. Refugee camps are overcrowded and dangerous, destroying their inhabitants’ cultural identity. Most poppy harvesters, for their part, are life-long addicts. __Burma lies between Thailand and Bangladesh, two countries to which Burmese refugees flee when they can. Filming surreptitiously under life-threatening circumstances, writer-director Neil Hollander reveals a country whose people live in constant fear, behind borders that are closed to the rest of the world. Exploitation, imprisonment, murder, and rape are daily events, described in detail by those who have suffered them. The land is so peppered with landmines that many simple farmers are demolitions experts, as illustrated by scenes of careful hands digging up and dismantling the devices. Even elephants walk with prostheses.

More than a million people wander the jungle, says narrator Anjelica Houston, as she describes the battle scenes on the fronts of simultaneous wars waged between ethnic tribes and the military junta that rules the country. Burma’s democratically elected president, Aung San Suu Kyi, who has lived under house arrest for decades, comments thoughtfully throughout the film. Somehow, the Nobel Peace Prize winner manages to close on a hopeful note.

Sponsored by The Gay and Lesbian Fund for Colorado

In cooperation with Peace Jam

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