Beyond Rangoon is a 1995 drama film directed by John Boorman about Laura Bowman (played by Patricia Arquette), an American tourist who vacations in Burma (Myanmar) in 1988, the year in which the 8888 Uprising takes place. The film was mostly filmed in Malaysia, and, though a work of fiction, was inspired by real people and real events. Bowman joins, albeit initially unintentionally, political rallies with university students protesting for democracy, and travels with the student leader U Aung Ko throughout Burma. There, they see the brutality of the military dictators of the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), and attempt to escape to Thailand. The film was an official selection at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival, where it was one of the popular hits of the event. The film may have had an impact beyond movie screens, however. Only weeks into its European run, the Burmese military junta freed Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi (depicted in the film) after several years under strict house arrest. The celebrated democracy leader thanked the filmmakers in her first interview with the BBC. Suu Kyi was re-arrested a few years later, but Beyond Rangoon had already helped raise world attention on a previously "invisible" tragedy: the massacres of 1988 and the cruelty of her country's military rulers.
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