Zarganar is one of the most remarkable men I have ever filmed. His courage, his humility, his determination to confront the Burmese junta with his humour has led him to pay a terrible price - 33 years more in prison. We must not forget him or the other 2000 political prisoners in Burma.
Rex Bloomstein, Director
Top New Zealand comedians Michele A’Court and Jeremy Elwood are joining Amnesty International to speak out about the imprisonment of ‘Burma’s greatest living comedian’, Maung Thura, aka Zarganar.
Relentlessly victimised by Myanmar’s military rulers, Zarganar is serving a 35-year prison sentence for publicly criticising the government’s failure to assist victims of Cyclone Nargis in 2008.
In effort to raise awareness about Zarganar’s plight and the right to freedom of expression, Michele and Jeremy have collaborated with Amnesty International to host a special screening of This Prison Where I Live.
The moving documentary tells Zarganar’s story and follows fellow European comedian Michael Mittermeier, who heads to Myanmar to find out more about Zarganar. The film highlights how performers are often at the front line in the fight for freedom of expression.
“As comedians, we like to fool ourselves that occasionally what we say is provocative, even dangerous. However, for a comedian like Zarganar, this is quite literally the case. We may take our freedom to speak, satirise and poke fun for granted, but we do know that many do not have the same artistic freedoms, and I’m very happy to play a tiny role in bringing one of these stories to the attention of a Kiwi audience,” says Jeremy.
“It is inspiring to be reminded of two things - that words are a powerful tool and that, in our part of the world, we are incredibly lucky to have the freedom to use whichever ones we want. The least we can do for someone with Zarganar’s courage is to get his words out to as many people as possible,” adds Michele.
“We’re asking Kiwis to get behind our campaign to free Zarganar by celebrating their right to freedom of expression and coming along to our film screening about this remarkable man. People will also have the opportunity to sign a postcard to Burmese authorities calling for Zarganar’s release,” says Amanda Brydon of Amnesty International.
WHAT: Amnesty International screening of This Prison Where I Live
WHEN: 7:30pm, Sunday 20 March
WHERE: The Classic Comedy Club, Queen Street, Auckland