Barbet Schroeder (General Idi Amin Dada, Terror’s Advocate) completes his trilogy of evil with this chilling documentary about the Buddhist monk whose Islamophobic rhetoric is stoking ethnic cleansing in Myanmar.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2017
“Everyone knows that Buddhism is the religion of peace, love and understanding. So there’s something deeply wrong about a Buddhist monk who calmly spouts anti-Muslim hate speech and incites ethnic riots. The monk in question, an influential Burmese figure known as the Venerable Wirathu, is the subject of the powerful final installment of Swiss director Barbet Schroeder’s ‘Axis of Evil’ trilogy, which began in 1974 with General Idi Amin Dada: A Self Portrait, and continued in 2007 with Terror’s Advocate…
It’s the shocking disjunct between his religion and the rabid nationalism of his sermons, writings and declarations that powers Schroeder’s conventional but nevertheless effective long hard stare into the eyes of intolerance.
However, this is also a chilling corrective to accounts of Burma that paint its recent history simply as a fight between courageous pro-democracy forces led by Aung San Suu Kyi (by no means a heroine in this particular story) and a repressive military regime. In the era of Trump (Wirathu is a fan), Farage and Le Pen, it also shines timely light on the mechanisms of nationalistic rhetoric.” — Lee Marshall, Screendaily