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Animated Art as a PSA

'Burma Viral' for Myanmar

— May 15, 2008 — Pop Culture
I have never seen a more moving animation than this PSA entitled “Burma Viral,” from the beautiful imagery and soul-touching music to the potent message. The 90 second clip was created by Shilo for MTV and Ogilvy to bring awareness to Burma, or Myanmar.

The animated public service announcement features contrasting footage of planes bombing the stunning, peaceful, pagoda and flower-filled landscapes of Burma, to generate a call-to-action.

The PSA is meant to lead people to The new site by the Burma Arts Board educates viewers on the struggle of Myanmar's oppressive military government, the effects of the cyclone, as well as allowing people to send supportive messages and offer relief to the people of Burma.

The video debuts online today as well as in Times Square in NYC where it's being displayed on MTV's 25-by-40 foot HD Jumbotron.

“As Cyclone Nargis tore across Burma, the world witnessed one of the worst natural disasters in history,” said Suki Dusanj. “Since then, the world has watched the military Junta block aid from reaching those who need it so desperately. It is our hope that this Burma Viral will circulate around the world and into Burma, and bring about the changes necessary to make the aid and rescue efforts effective – and to allow the Burmese people the freedom to enjoy the civil liberties they deserve.”

“This spot somehow talks directly to the emotions we feel about the current humanitarian crisis in Burma,” said John Jackson. “We know that people desperately need help and we also know it is not reaching them. The narrative conjures up a task force that brings a powerful message of support to the people of Burma, and an urgent appeal to donate to the international relief effort.”

Just for reference, 89% of Burma's population is Buddhist. “The importance of Buddhism in the history of Myanmar is evident from a landscape dominated by pagodas which is why the country is often called 'the land of pagodas.'” Wikipedia says. “Every village in Burma has a pagoda and a monastery, the traditional places for worship and education.” This is evidently displayed in the imagery of the campaign.

“The crux of the film's story is based in juxtaposition and surprise: An ominous set-up gives way to hope,” says Shilo co-founder, creative director and director André Stringer. “The flowers are the perfect icon for that.

“My favorite shot involves a really close-up shot of a flower fluttering in front of the camera, where the camera has a lot of shake on it. Seeing that scene made me realize that the flowers had already become characters for us, like they were paratroopers falling on D-Day. Some look really lyrical, beautiful and fluid, and some of them dive with intensity. To me, it's really cool to be able to take something like a flower and let it become a paratrooper – or a performer that can poetically deliver a powerful message, as these do.”

If the campaign moves you, they have created a Facebook group, which anyone can join.