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May 07, 2009


Steven Bognar

AJ thanks for your thoughts on BURMA VJ, though I'm sorry to hear you fell out of the film during the recreations. In my book, the construction and visualization of those recreated scenes is beautifully, cinematically rendered, and fits incredibly well with the real footage - organic, in harmony. And even better, we could easily tell what was recreated and what wasn't. (Assume the audio of every phone call is also a recreation, just to be safe). The "recreations" in American Teen were harder to discern - they were more integrated into the verite scenes, and maybe that's what upset the purists.

Pat Aufderheide

I appreciate the thoughtful reaction to Burma VJ. My concern about the film was different. I felt that a key element of the real life story was the fact that Scandinavian government overseas aid money had paid for the "Joshua" figure, enabling the grassroots communication system. I only learned this from the filmmaker's remarks at IDFA. I think leaving out information such as this obscures the actual relationships that make things happen. For instance, in Legacy, Todd Lending's moving film (shown on HBO) about a poor African-American family in Chicago, I believe that the filmmaker's role in wangling access to a drug treatment program for one of the subjects is not mentioned, nor is a sizeable personal donation (from someone else) that enabled the family's making of a down payment on a house. These might be seen as blurring an otherwise uplifting story about self-help, but even if complicating these are highly relevant and informative pieces of information about the importance of intervention and the difficulties facing people without access to capital or connections.

Stephen Hyde

AJ, I was there at the Bloor amongst the smell of burning popcorn and sweaty Canadians.

Burma VJ has three important things going for it. It has extraordinary "access" and contemporary "relevance". The film makes the unseen visible, in turn creating a open window into the closed world of Militarized Myanmar.

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