In politics and Hollywood, it never hurts to have friends in high places. "The Lady," the biopic on Burmese human rights activist Aung San Suu Kyi, made a few at a special screening in Washington, D.C., Monday night.
“This is a terrific movie,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (at left with the film's star Michelle Yeoh) told an audience filled with diplomats and activists Monday night at an event hosted by the Motion Picture Association of America. “This film portrays a woman whose story needs to be in theaters and living rooms across the world.”
MPAA Chairman Senator Chris Dodd, called "The Lady" a "great story of a Nelson Mandela-type character who never quit and shows how one person can make a difference.”
it didn't make the film, but the real-life story of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner Suu Kyi has, at least for now, a happy ending. On April 1, her party won a landslide victory in Burma's national elections.
The triumph capped a miraculous turnaround for Suu Kyi, whose father, Aung San, was instrumental in negotiating Burma's independence from Great Britain in 1947. Just before winning a seat in Burma's parliament in 1989, she was placed under house arrest and remained imprisoned for years before her latest release in 2010.
The film details the love story between the Suu Kyi and her husband, professor Michael Aris, against the backdrop of the Burmese democracy and human rights movement.
Clinton saw the film last year, when she was given a copy before a meeting with Suu Kyi on a visit to Burma last year.
"Her story needs to be told around the world, “ Clinton asserted.
Also present at the screening were Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh, who portrays Suu Kyi in the film, and producer and director Luc Besson.
Yeoh explained how she brought the script to the French filmmaker while Suu Kyi was still under arrest, hoping that he would agree to produce the film. Besson was so enthralled that he decided to direct the film as well, Yeoh said.
In comments that might have been seen as blasphemy at an event sponsored by the copyright-conscious MPAA, Besson said he didn't mind that the film was widely pirated in Burma if it contributed to recent victory by Suu Kyi's party at the polls.
Cohen Media is opening the film Wednesday in New York and plans to expand gradually from there.