All of the video journalists from the Democratic Voice of Burma who contributed to Anders Østergaard's Oscar-nominated documentary "Burma VJ - reporting from a closed country" were included in the Myanmar government's amnesty that released 651 political prisoners on the 13 January.
A large part of the film consists of footage by the Burmese VJs who document the monks' dramatic uprising, known as the Saffron Revolution, in September 2007. Armed with small handy cams, the VJs worked undercover to keep up the flow of news from their closed country despite risking torture and life in jail. Their material was smuggled out of Burma and broadcast back via satellite.
Released and thankful
When the film ends, the military junta has completely crushed the uprising, the secret police has managed to infiltrate and dismantle the network in the ’Democratic Voice of Burma’, and 17 VJs was imprisoned. Now, however, they have been released.
The tactical leader of the reporters, 'Joshua', who currently lives in London, has talked to four of the freed VJs and reports that they are all in good health and spirit.
"They all are really happy now. They said they heard a lot about the success of Burma VJ since they were in prison. One of them is called "Oscar" by his jailmates because of the nomination news. Ko Shwe said he was so pleased to know that someone could use the footage he has sacrificed for in a very effective way. This mail is just to thank you for all your efforts in the making of "Burma VJ", which played a significant role in changing the situation in Burma," Joshua writes in an email to the Danish production team.
The film's producer, Lise Lense-Møller expresses her joy that the film has contributed to the progress in Myanmar:
"The film has been widely seen all over the world and has helped revive awareness of the Saffron Revolution both at a grass-roots level and at the highest political level like the special screening at Downing Street. The Myanmar government has released the prisoners due to the international pressure, and it's a fantastic feeling to have contributed to that," says Lise Lense-Møller.
In October, "Burma VJ" was granted the Jury Commendation for its Social Impact by PUMA.Creative Impact Awards, a new annual award honouring "world changing films". Lise Lense-Møller chose to donate the money from the award to Joshua, who is currently studying film in London and wishes to make another documentary about Burma.
Burma VJ is winner of more than 50 international awards and honours, including an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary Feature. In August, "Burma VJ" was selected as number 44 on Morgan Spurlock and Current TV's list of the most influential documentaries of the last 25 years.