Oscilloscope Laboratories has picked up U.S. distribution rights IDFA and Sundance ’09 doc “Burma VJ” by Danish director Anders Ostergaard. The company plans a theatrical and non-theatrical release this spring, with DVD to follow in 2010. Oscilloscope’s David Fenkel negotiated the deal with Josh Braun of Submarine and Esther van Messel of First hand Films on behalf of the filmmakers.
The film, which took two awards at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) and the documentary editing prize at Sundance earlier this year, gives a rare inside look into the 2007 uprising in the islolated Southeast Asian nation of Myanmar (Burma) through the cameras of the independent journalist group, Democratic Voice of Burma.
While 100,000 people (including 1,000s of Buddhist monks) took to the streets to protest the country’s repressive regime that held the country hostage for over 40 years, foreign news crews are banned to enter the country and the Internet was shut down. The Democratic Voice of Burma, a collective of 30 anonymous and underground video journalists (VJs) recorded these historic and dramatic events on handycams and smuggled the footage out of the country, broadcasting it worldwide via satellite. Risking torture and life imprisonment, the VJs vividly document the brutal clashes with the military and undercover police – and then they themselves became the targets of the authorities.
“Burma VJ” will open at New York’s Film Forum May 20, while HBO holds broadcast rights.