Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Myanmar Diaries, on OVID.tv

Most young filmmakers are desperate for their first directing credit, but for the journalists and documentarians who constitute the The Myanmar Film Collective, identifying themselves would have lead to imprisonment, torture, and death. Laudably, the non-Burmese who also contributed to this documentary, also declined credit, as an expression of solidarity. Their brave underground films shame the international media, who have largely under-reported the human rights abuses following the February 1 coup. Here’s a “trigger warning:” reality is brutal in The Myanmar Film Collective’s Myanmar Diaries, which premieres Friday on OVID.tv.

One thing is crystal clear from all the constituent parts of
Myanmar Diaries—the military regime has turned the nation into a true police state. No other words describe the conditions the Burmese people live under. Several of the most visceral and shocking segments were shot on smart phones or handheld devices. Frankly, most or all of them should have gone viral worldwide, but most viewers will likely see them here for the first time.

The audience will witness protestors shot down, mothers dragged out of their homes while their scared children cry and wail, as well as a defiant man live-streaming his attempt to hold back the warrant-less police trying to break down his door in the dead of night. On the other hand, we also see the resistance, who clearly represent the vast majority of the people. By far, the most memorable is the outraged auntie, who defiantly gives the “anti-riot” cops a verbal dressing down sufficient to shame them all back to the stone age.

Perhaps less consistent are the impressionistic interludes that express the fear, paranoia, isolation, and loneliness of ordinary Myanmar citizens. You could argue without irony that the entire film counts as a “horror” movie of sorts, but the most successful interlude uses the visual vocabulary of horror movies to represent people’s current fear.

Of course, no one has supported the junta more than Xi and his CCP regime, but sadly, the rest of the world has not paid attention. It seems like the international media has ignored the horrors in Myanmar out of spite towards Aung San Suu Kyi, but she was the country’s democratically elected leader and it is average people who have suffered the most.

Parts of
Myanmar Diaries will shock viewers out of their apathy, as was clearly the intention. The Myanmar Film Collective documents what is happening on the streets and in private homes with urgency and immediacy. It put you there, which is frightening. Very highly recommended, Myanmar Diaries starts streaming Friday (3/24) on OVID.tv.