Burma VJ: Truth as Casualty

Courtesy Magic Hour Films

Real or re-enacted? A still from Burma VJ. It's hard to tell which scenes are authentic

When I recall reporting Burma's doomed pro-democracy uprising for TIME in September 2007, one image stands out. Amid cheering crowds, a monk holds aloft an upturned alms bowl to indicate his brethren's refusal to accept offerings from the military. It's a powerful gesture in a devout Buddhist country, but what strikes me is not the monk but the ordinary Burmese holding aloft cell phones and cameras to record his protest. Images like these were then transmitted out of Burma via the Internet, where they were picked up by major broadcasters and shown to the...