Aung San Suu Kyi has become an icon for democratic freedom. After spending fifteen years under house arrest in Burma after leading the National League for Democracy in an election victory of the ruling military junta in 1990, her struggle gained international attention and last month, she was finally released from house arrest. That's a pretty simple summary for a battle that over the years has mobilized student groups, human rights advocates and more as they leaned on Burma (and any corporations doing business with the nation) to do the right thing and recognize the injustice being perpetrated on Suu Kyi. So it's not a complete surprise that her story is being prepped for the big screen.
The Guardian has plenty of new details and stills from the upcoming Luc Besson directed film titled "The Lady," the name given to Suu Kyi by the Burmese population who were banned from saying her name. The film, written by Rebecca Frayn, is not a biopic but will instead "be set between 1988 – when Aung San Suu Kyi left Oxford to visit her sick mother and ended up staying – and 1999, the year [Michael] Aris [her husband] died after being diagnosed with cancer. Aris had been forbidden from entering Burma, a decision that left Aung San Suu Kyi with the almost impossible decision of whether to stay or go." Of course, all of this plays about against the tough political backdrop that would later get Suu Kyi arrested.
As has been previously reported Michelle Yeoh takes on the lead role of Suu Kyi with David Thewlis joining in the role of her husband. Speaking about what drew him to the film, Besson says Suu Kyi was "more of a heroine than Joan of Arc" adding that, "It is the fight of a woman without any weapons, just her kindness and her mentality. She is very Gandhi like. She says we should have the right to decide our future, we should have the right to express ourselves. She is asking for things we all have and don't even think about any more. How often in history do you have a person, a woman, who never curses, never steals anything, never does anything illegal and you put her under house arrest for 24 years, it is just insane."
There is about three weeks of filming left to go on "The Lady" and a fall 2011 release is being eyed. Curiously, the film is being made without the permission of Suu Kyi who nevertheless recently met with Yeoh. We're certainly curious to see what Besson has put together considering this is outside his usual wheelhouse of gritty action pics and whimsical fantasy films. Could this also show up on the Cannes red carpet in May? Certainly Besson is beloved in his native land and the pic's subject matter and star power seem perfect for the Croisette.