Art as a Weapon: A new look at Burma

Posted filed under Burma, Documentaries, Politics.

Art as a Weapon is a feature documentary about the intersection between street art, Buddhism, and the struggle for Democracy using the closed country of Burma as a case study. The film will weave together three different experiences of people using creativity for social change into a single story about how art can confront oppression through non-violent resistance. The film will give the audience a peek into the lives of Burmese school children learning how to use spray paint, Buddhist monks who write poetry, and street artist Shepard Fairey creating a three-story mural in support of Burma.

Director/Producer Jeff Durkin was inspired to make the film when artist Shepard Fairey painted a 30′ tall Burmese monk in his neighborhood in San Diego. That image embodied the intersection of three very unique and seemingly unrelated elements: street art, Buddhism, and human rights; and the idea of using “Art as a Weapon” was born. Shortly thereafter he was able to record Nobel Peace Prize winner and former Burmese political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi’s first phone call to the U.S. after her house arrest to a group of UC Berkeley students. “That’s where art and politics collided for me,” Durkin says.

Teaser Trailer

This will be a “connections” film that shows how the search for truth is a common thread in art, Democracy, religion, and how they shape our lives. By combining beautiful cinematography, with Buddhist philosophy, and art that carries a message the project will illustrate the power that art and creativity have in the information age. Part art film, part political film, the goal is to help MILLIONS by spreading the word about Burma.

In order to complete the film, Durkin has launched a Kickstarter fundraising campaign to raise $30,000 in 60 days to send a team of filmmakers to the Thai/Burma boarder. What makes this project unique is that Kickstarter supporters can become part of the creative process and can suggest interviews, watch rough cuts, and even choose the final film title. In addition they can pre-order the DVD and get autographed posters, t-shirts, and stickers all designed by artists. Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing platform, and the project must meet its financial goal or all donations will be refunded. Currently 20% of the goal has been raised as of November 14h, 2011. The campaign ends December 9th, 2011.


Jeff Durkin is an award-winning filmmaker who makes documentaries about creative people and what makes them tick. Films on architects, furniture designers, and street artists have won him awards worldwide and screened at the Los Angeles Film festival, Melbourne Film festival, Utah Docs, Cinefest, and the London International Documentary Festival. His first feature documentary on street artists Mike Giant, and Mike Maxwell is currently in consideration for the 2012 Sundance film festival.

Interviews with Shepard Fairey and Aung San Suu Kyi. Directed by Jeff Durkin > //