Sopheap Chak

Riding the wave of change in Cambodia

Category: Movie Review

Burma VJ: people power vs repressive military junta

The world were quickly aware of the historical and dramatic days of September 2007 in Burma where the Saffron Revolution unexpectedly began after 19 year silence. We all mobilized and joint the solidarity cause for Burma. A group of Cambodian rights activists, net-citizens, and ordinary people wearing red-shirt gathered to protest in front of Burmese Embassy of Cambodia for the same solidarity cause for Burma by condemning the violence that had claimed the lives of demonstrators including monks.

Thanks to digital technology and a number of reporters who risk their life to make information reached the world so that we all could be aware of the event and solidarity cause could be mobilized.

Through Burma VJ, it is hardly to deny the role of media in democratization and social movement. Even worst, the role of media is more crucial, though it bears more risks, in a closed country, such the case of Burma. Though the role of media in the film acted a bit beyond its professionalism, once the reporters apparently guided and advised the demonstration forces, it could be understood that media in such sociopolitical context has its tendency and agenda for their country’s freedom.

Once we have watched the film, we would agree that the film is deserved its Award of Best Documentary Feature, not because of geopolitics or film production, but the natural and its way of reporting from a CLOSED COUNTRY.

Make your own judgment by watching it:

Turtles Can Fly: How is that possible?

Turtles Can Fly [Lakposhtha ham parvaz mikonand] is an emotional, yet inspiring movie which the world leaders must watch it, so that their next decision to wage a war can be changed.

Imagine ourselves as an orphan is sad enough, but the refuge kids in the movie are more suffered for anticipating their fate in the upcoming US’s invasion into Iraq in 2003. Yet, the kids seemingly impressed about American’s value.  This even includes the ground mine made in America; the selling price would be higher (the kids earned their income by digging for ground mine to sell to officers or the market).

The sad part of this story is the young girl, Agrin, who apparently looks fine, yet her heart fulled of hatred and desperation due to the suffer from being rapped by military. This young girl, who should have enjoyed her time at school, friends, and family at her age, is taking care a toddler who is a reminder of her pain. Many occasion, she had tried to end herself and kid’s life, but the motherhood kept haunting her. Finally; however, she successfully fulfilled her goal. The break of family relationship, mother and child, is unbelievable, but it is possible due to the traumatization of war.

Beside the tragedy part, interestingly, “Turtles Can Fly” emphasizes the role of media in informing public about what will happen in their community, if not the world. ”Satellite,” a brave and smart kid, who help mobilizing orphans for income generation and life struggling, introduced to villagers the importance of access to media.

In the movie script, Satellite talked with an elder who did not believe that this kid can get the media shown in the village through the antenna and especially due to the local governor’s restriction:

The old man: I swearyou won’t ever get pictures in this viIIage with this antenna.

Satellite: I said you shouId buy a satellite.

The old man: A satellite! The village governor says the satellite is prohibited.

Satellite: Don’t say that! The sexy and dance channels are prohibited, not the news.

Maybe my sharing is not convincing enough, you can try yourself here:

This movie is not solely reflecting the tragedy of kids living near Iraqi-Turkish border, but the whole world where experienced the wars, genocide and political conflicts. As the country leaders, can you stop thinking of struggling for power, but peace?

© MMXVI Sopheap Chak

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