From the More 4 press team…
“More4’s Burma season is the first of three specials in which the Channel will shine a spotlight on troubled nations currently in the news: Burma (tx Jan/Feb), Afghanistan (tx April) and Zimbabwe (tx May, including the TV premiere of the acclaimed True Stories film Mugabe and the White African).
The Burma season will look at the consequences for those living under a repressive regime, and includes Mat Whitecross’ Moving to Mars, award-winning Burma VJ, and a repeat screening of Orphan’s of Burma’s Cyclone – a cameraman from which has since been arrested and imprisoned by the Burmese authorities. With elections scheduled to take place in Burma this year – the legitimacy of which has been questioned by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – More4’s mini Burma season is a timely expose of the consequences of the country’s military rule.
Headlining the season is True Stories: Moving to Mars (2nd Feb, 10pm) from one-to-watch director Mat Whitecross (co-directed The Shock Doctrine and The Road to Guantanamo, whose latest film Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll is currently making headlines). Moving to Mars follows two refugee families from Burma over the course of a year that will change their lives completely. Forced from their homeland by the repressive military junta, they have lived in a Thai refugee camp for almost twenty years. A UN relocation scheme offers them the chance of a new life, but their new home, in the British city of Sheffield, will be different to everything they’ve ever known. With intimate access, this new feature-length documentary depicts their moving and sometimes humorous struggles with 21st century Britain.
The season will also see the TV premiere of award-winning festival favourite Burma VJ (26th Jan, 10pm). Going beyond the occasional news clip from Burma, filmmaker Anders Østergaard’s documentary captures the bravery of the video journalists who deliver the footage. Though risking torture and life in jail, courageous young citizens of Burma live the essence of journalism as they keep up the flow of news from their closed country. Armed with small handycams, the Burma VJs stop at nothing to make their reportages; their material is smuggled out of the country and broadcast back into Burma via satellite and offered as free usage for international media. The whole world has witnessed single event clips made by the VJs, but for the very first time, their individual images have been put together with Østergaard’s sparingly-used reconstruction to tell a riveting story which offers a unique insight into high-risk journalism and dissidence in a police state, while at the same time providing a thorough documentation of the historical and dramatic days of September 2007, when the Buddhist monks started marching. Co-produced for More4’s True Stories, Burma VJ is shortlisted for an Oscar-nomination.
The season will also include a repeat screening of the remarkable Orphans of Burma’s Cyclone (26th Jan, 11:55pm), originally screened as part of C4’s Dispatches strand in June 2009. Six months after filming completed, one of the cameraman – known only as ‘T’ – was arrested in Rangoon and charged and imprisoned for the offence of filming without government permission, which carries a minimum jail sentence of 10 years. It is believed he was arrested because of his work as a cameraman. The sentence is pending.
The film follows the lives of eight Burmese orphans as they struggle to survive the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis. The film also exposes the official intransigence of one of the world’s most brutal and secretive regimes. With unparalleled access inside the country from just after the cyclone struck, Orphans of Burma’s Cyclone was shot covertly over the course of a year by two Burmese cameramen who risked an instant 30 year prison sentence if caught making the film. Orphans of Burma’s Cyclone reveals what day to day life is like for the ordinary people of Burma.”
We are thrilled to be screening in association with these two great films, and we’re especially excited that Burma VJ is finally screening on UK TV. Be sure to watch them all!