Aung San Suu Kyi, also often referred to as Daw Suu, has spent most of the last twenty years in and out of house arrest for opposing the military regime that controls Burma. Coming from a political family and academic background, she’s stoically campaigned for change in the way Burma is run and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize among many other accolades.
This documentary takes a step back from the politics and focuses on Aung San Suu Kyi’s history as a mother, wife and human being. Directed by Danish filmmaker Anne Gyrithe Bonne, Aung San Suu Kyi – Lady of No Fear attempts to tell the story of how and why a woman gave up so much to fight for what she believed in and what her choices meant for those closest to her.
For those who aren’t familiar with recent Burmese political history, the documentary briefly touches upon the basics giving you enough knowledge to put Suu’s story into context. The focus isn’t on the political message but rather on her and her family with interviews with friends.
This film was made during the past period of Suu’s house arrest so there is understandably very little in her own words. Bonne uses archive footage to her advantage revealing to us a narrative time line of events. Towards the beginning of the film, we’re shown an earlier interview where Aung San Suu Kyi is asked about the difficulty in leaving her family behind to which she simply answers “I never answer personal questions”, so the picture we’re shown of the lady who’s known affectionately to her supporters as ‘Mother’ is one from the eyes of friends, mostly westerners and people who knew her before her political career.
Even though she is described as prim and ‘untouchable’, Aung San Suu Kyi’s selflessness is detailed in full, from the way she gave up her promising academic career to become a loyal and devoted housewife through to her decision to chose her country over her family. Aung San Suu Kyi isn’t in search of fame or power like most politicians, instead she searches for truth and peace. Suu didn’t set out to become a political figure so it seems almost like fate that all the events and other factors in her life just happened to create this selfless, intelligent, stoic person and put her in the right place at the right time. The specific set of circumstances which helped to create the person she is today include: her upbringing, her father’s status and job as a politician, her education and her mother’s illness which coincidentally was the reason she was in Burma at a very specific and crucial point in time. It’s difficult to understand how a woman could leave her husband and young children but this only shows how remarkable a person she is.
Suu’s late husband, Dr Michael Aris, is also a key focus of the documentary. Michael was a supportive husband and campaigner on her behalf, even though he was given little or zero communication with her while she was under house arrest, he remained devoted and loyal to her and took on the role of a single father in her absence.
The documentary isn’t steeped in political or religious messages but rather serves to tell the story of how and why anyone would leave their family and sacrifice their freedom for their political beliefs. To her supporters, Aung San Suu Kyi is a modern day Joan of Arc and Anne Gyrithe Bonne successfully manages to piece together the story behind a woman who has spent most of her adult life behind closed doors both literally and metaphorically.
Into the Current
Into the Current tells the story of Burma’s unsung heroes, what they call their “prisoners of conscience” and the price they pay for speaking out against the military regime. Using footage secretly shot in Burma, the film reveals the stories and sacrifices of ‘ordinary’ people and their inspirational leaders.
The film highlights the tales of suppression of democracy activists who fear imprisonment, torture and isolation for speaking out or even delivering messages against the ruling political party.