New Burma Film Opens to Rave Reviews
covering burma and southeast asia
Monday, July 23, 2018

New Burma Film Opens to Rave Reviews

By CHARLIE CAMPBELL Thursday, January 19, 2012


An explosive new film lifts the lid on the real lives of people in military-dominated Burma just as the country begins a cautious process of reform.

Told with stunning footage shot over a two-year period, They Call it MyanmarLifting The Curtain is the latest project by acclaimed filmmaker Robert H. Lieberman and has already received rave reviews at international film festivals in Amsterdam, Stockholm and Vienna.

Providing an intimate portrait of one of the world's most clandestine nations, the film is cut from 120 hours of  material and includes interviews with key figures including pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.

Director Robert H. Lieberman secretly compiled more than 120 hours of footage of real people in Burma. (Photo: JC Butler Design)
“I started out shooting in Burma with the intent of making a nonpolitical film,” said Lieberman. “It quickly became obvious that it was impossible.

“The politics manifest themselves not just in human rights violations, but also in the every day life of the Burmese—parents who can’t feed their children, children who cannot attend school and who begin to enter the labor force almost as soon as they can walk and talk.”

Lieberman was invited by the US state department to make a film about Burma and quickly got involved in arts projects in the country. In between personal portrayals of the daily struggles of real people, the director exposes an education system comprised of nationalist slogans and horrifically inadequate healthcare.

Lieberman films with the aid of hidden camera, risking his own safety to get compelling footage including over 100 interviews.  The Cornell University professor traces the history of Burma from its beginnings in the ancient city of Bagan, through colonial times, recent uprisings, the devastating Cyclone Nargis which killed 150,000 people, and up to the present day.

“There is a fine line between investigative journalism and portraying the reality of life,”Lieberman explains. “The news reports coming out of Burma tend to focus on the political aspects as well
as the civil wars that are ongoing.

“Our film, on the other hand, is an attempt to put a human face on the country. The movie is not all doom and gloom. Despite the grim conditions, we see that the Burmese have a wonderful sense of humor.”

The director's mission statement was to bring the subject of Burma into households who knew nothing about the country. And as the US debates altering its foreign policy on Burma in the wake of Friday's political prisoner release, They Call it Myanmar offers a unique chance for American voters to see the true state of the nation.

And initial reviews have been very positive. “Defies the odds… delivers a compelling portrait… dwells with you… It is, as of now, the definitive film on a country, its peoples and an oversight long overlooked,” says The Hollywood Reporter.

They Call it MyanmarLifting The Curtain opens across the US next month.

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Dave Wrote:
He filmed it through an American lens, iykwim...

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