Burmese Dreaming

Monkey Business Films
54 mins - feature documentary - language: English

Filmed when Burma was staunchly totalitarian, Burmese Dreaming was described by an American
reviewer as a 'documentary poem.’ I consider this apt:  the currency of poetry is human emotion and in Burmese Dreaming I sought to engage emotion through music, image and story rather than adopt a more journalistic, narrative driven approach. Burmese Dreaming enjoyed a World Premiere at the United Nations 'We the People's Documentary Festival' and an American Premiere at the Buffalo-Niagra Film Festival.

Trailers & Out-take Scenes

Trailer Cinematography Trailer Outake Scene: Lover's Park (aka Naughty Monkey)

Festivals, Media & Reviews

International Premiere: United Nations 'We the People's Documentary Festival' (London)
US Premiere: Buffalo - Niagra International Film Festival (New York)
Australian Premiere: Emerge Film Festival (Multi Cultural Arts, Melbourne)
Further Festival Highlights:
Hot Docs (Canada) - International Showcase Selection
Lucerne International Film Festival (Switzerland)
International Diaspora Film Festival (Toronto)

Review: Mr Paul Copeland ​I am a lawyer who practices in Toronto Ontario. Since late 1988 I have been actively involved working in support of democracy in Burma. I have traveled to Burma four times. I am on the advisory board of Canadian Friends of Burma. I work closely with the Canadian Campaign for Free Burma (CC4FB). I read a great deal about Burma and have seen many documentaries concerning the situation. Burmese Dreaming is one of the finest documentaries I have seen on Burma. The visual images of the country in the film are stunningly beautiful and for me capture the reality of the Burma I know. The background story of the film vividly portrays the struggles of the Karen people, the largest ethnic minority in Burma, in trying to survive against the oppression of the military dictatorship that has kept the people of Burma locked in a cruel, heartless and inhumane regime since 1962.


A Timothy Syrota / Monkey Business Films Production

Budget - Self Funded

DIrector: Timothy Syrota
Director of Photography: Timothy Syrota
Still Shots: Karen State - courtesy of Burma Issues
Script: Refugees students at the English Immersion Program in collaboration with Timothy Syrota
Narrators: Naw Bathseba, Saw Teh Teh
Music: David Lazaro & Graham Pointer
Editing: Timothy Syrota
Audio MIx: David Lazaro
Colour Grade & Mastering: David Milner
Special thanks to: Patrick Kearns, Jack Picone, Mr Garry Woodard, Christophe de Chasis, Saw Taw Nay Htoo

Director's Guff

First feature documentary by a film maker with a commitment to a dream (appropriate, given the title of the film). I say the following with some pride: I had had no film related training, little experience, no budget, a subject matter involving one of the world's most media intolerant totalitarian dictatorships, and a woe-to-go production journey from conception to completion spanning more years than I have fingers. Fortune, misfortune, anecdotes aplenty, and a director - myself - who could 'guff' about any, all and more of the above, for longer than the attention span of many a captive (or captured and refused the right to go away) audience. And so, the guff comes finds it's way into the blogs - blogs about Robbie Fowler (the Liverpool footballer), an epiphany about dreams on a Sunday morning in Northcote, a totalitarian take on GBH - Greivous Bodily Harm, of the ketamin or such like variety - and fortuitous meeting with Laz & Pointer, and - 'This is the End' - by the Doors or was it just?


A Genesis
So,a hippy backpacker in Burma in 1998, stumbling my way through a crash course in being a naive antipodean observing the harsh realities of life in one of the world's most enduring totalitarian regimes. Interwoven, inexorably interlinked to this was the mystical beauty of the country, sounds and smells from the repugnant through to the exotic and the mesmerising, the Buddhist culture, the compelling stories of the people, all commingling into a melange that took life and my work in a direction I had not anticipated. Twenty years on and I still find the country intriguing. Within two weeks of arriving for the first time I had decided that I would write a book about Burma. Previously I had only had two short articles published. Six weeks into my trip and I was walking alone in the mountains of Shan State, an area controlled then by the Shan State Army (North). It was approaching sunset and I came across the tumble down remnants of a Buddhist shrine overgrown with trees, very picturesque. I think the beauty of the scene proved, without preconception, to be the fulcrum of the many images I had witnessed over the preceding weeks. And at this moment they spoke to me with a clear, resonant and collective voice, 'At this moment, with this scene in front of you, you are going to make the decision that you will come back and make a film about this country'. I remember that scene, that moment, with such clarity, the moment I made the irrevocable decision to return to Burma to make a film. This was my first Burmese Dreaming epiphany. There are to be a number of them over the following years, as well as one master stroke of good fortune.

Filming in Burma
The most fitting analogy with which I can describe the experience is this: it was like getting up every morning, taping a polythene (see through) bag of marihuana to your head, and then going and doing a tap dance in front of the local police cop shop hoping that no one will notice. More coming shortly.

A Pan's Labyrinth Post Production
An ephinay on a Sunday morning in Thornbury, followed by a late night with a British backpacker. Coming shortly.
This is the End - A Retrospective musing on the Triummphs and Travails
So, was Burmese Dreaming a success? Coming shortly.