HBO’s documentaries have a way of compelling us to take a look at parts of the world the rest of the media tends to forget, unless they happen to turn up as bad guys in the latest “Rambo” movie.
Enter “Burma Soldier,” a documentary premiering May 18 on HBO 2 that chronicles the horrors committed by the Burmese regime through the experience of one former soldier in the army who, after losing a couple of limbs in the service of a corrupt government, bravely spoke out against them — and wound up spending years being tortured and held in prison.
Narrated by Colin Farrell, most of the narration actually comes from Myo Myint Cho, who joined the Burmese Army at age 17, mostly out of economic necessity.
Most of the video and photographs had to be smuggled out of Burma, but the strongest elements come from Myo Myint Cho’s first-person accounts of the horrors he witnessed. In one of the more horrifying stories, he talks of a woman being raped and murdered, and soldiers using local villagers as bearers/minesweepers, having them march ahead of the troops in case there are land mines.
The 70-minute film was directed by Nic Dunlop, Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern. Other noteworthy HBO docs airing this month — both previously reviewed out of festivals — include “How to Die in Oregon” (May 26), examining the state’s Death with Dignity Act; and “Precious Life,” about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which premiered May 5 but will repeat a half-dozen times beginning May 10.