Filmed over a two-year period before the 2011 elections that started the slow changes that Myanmar’s reformist government introduced, this 80-minute documentary by Robert Lieberman shows what an uphill struggle the country is going to face simply to catch up.
Not only has there been little other than military development over the past 50 years, but even what was in place at that time has all gone downhill, so that the whole infrastructure of the country is in a desperate state of disrepair.
The resilience of the people living there is remarkable to say the least, and it is on this that Lieberman focuses, with an impressionistic view of the country and its people, their hopes and fears for the future.
The filmmaker tries to give some historical background to the country, an epitome of the culture and its bearing on everyday life, and there is an interview with Aung San Suu Kyi, which all give it some perspective. The film also covers the period of the Saffron Revolution and its suppression, and the disastrous Nargis cyclone and its after effects.
But it is the focus on the life and words of the people and the dilapidated conditions they have to deal with which stand out about the film. Children working (or sold off) from the earliest possible age, a lack of medical facilities and the impossible cost to the poor of what there is, and shortages of everything from food to electricity.
There is also an air of fear that is seen to be everywhere lurking behind the eyes of the people: will having their photograph taken lead to trouble? is anyone watching? who is listening? why does he want to know this? The people who are interviewed are done so off-screen or with faces blurred out to protect them from reprisal.
The film is not available online for free at present, though if you ask me, it should be, as this is important information the public should have, and it is still the reality the people are facing till now.
The film was made made available to me through the kindness of my friend and supporter, Rick Potts, to whom I owe many thanks. Here is a trailer from the film, and if you are interested the film can be bought on DVD from their website, or on Amazon, etc.
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