Foreign Policy Blogs

They Call It Myanmar: Lifting the Curtain (2012)


“Asia’s rice bowl.”
That was the name of Burma (now called Myanmar) some time ago.
Now isolated and under stern military rule, Burma has lagged behind other Asian nations.
What this documentary shows is the rich history of Burma, its strong Buddhist traditions, and its struggle against occupiers.
When it comes to revealing the many cultures that exist inside Burma, this film just scratches the surface. It is, however, a really well done documentary.
Nobel prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who was under house arrest for years for advocating human rights and democracy, is interviewed.
It was her father, Aung San, who joined with the Japanese to rid Burma of British rule. Fate was cruel, however, and it turned out the Japanese were worse than the British, committing atrocious war crimes.
And, it seems, the gap between the haves and the have-nots in Burma is growing. Most families can’t afford to send their children to school.
Lacking child labor laws, most of the children start work at a very young age.
This documentary is not a polemic against the military regime but rather a quiet and thoughtful protest against it.
While the military junta has made Burma almost as isolated as North Korea, it differs in that it has no cult of personality. Most of the leaders are interchangeable.

This film shows how many people join the military because they are afforded an education and can get steady work.
When Cyclone Nargis hit in 2008, killing as many as 138,000 people, the Burmese government refused to allow assistance of all kinds pledged by many nations.
Burma is a fascinating place and this documentary does it justice.

“They Call It Myanmar: Lifting the Curtain” is available to rent.

Murphy can be reached at: [email protected]



Sean Patrick Murphy
Sean Patrick Murphy

Sean Patrick Murphy is a graduate of Bennington College, where he majored in politics and Latin American literature. He has worked for Current History magazine, Physicians for Human Rights, and Citizens for Global Solutions (formerly the World Federalist Association). He lives outside Philadelphia.

Areas of Focus:
Cinematography; Independent Films; Documentary;


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