March 28, 2010

U Pyinya Zawta at the Oscars

My latest “On the Buddhism Beat” post at Shambhala Sun Space is an interview I did with U Pyinya Zawta, a founding member and the executive director of the All Burma Monks’ Alliance. One of the leaders of 2007’s “Saffron Revolution”–the nonviolent demonstration by thousands of Buddhist monastics calling for economic and political justice in the military-ruled country–he was a guest of the producer and director of Best Documentary nominee Burma VJ: Reporting from a Closed Country at last night’s 82nd Annual Academy Awards. (Burma VJ ultimately lost to The Cove, though, however.) I must say: it was a tremendous honor to speak with him and our translator Aung Moe Win. Here’s a snippet of our conversation…

There have been some interesting editorials in the last week or so—specifically at the New York Times’s Carpetbagger blog and Foreign Policy—about the “importance” of the Oscar nomination for Burma VJ. Would you say something about why you think the Academy’s notice is so important?

Photo courtesy of Annie Demyan.

Burma VJ is very important because it can help raise awareness and educate viewers about what’s happening on the ground in Burma. The film shows the horrible things that are taking place there, and also demonstrates how people are forced to gather information. The more people who see the film, the more people can see what’s happening.

Read the rest right here.

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