Ma Thida is an MD, writer, human rights activist and former prisoner of conscience. A member of the editing board of Burmese magazine “Shwe Amyutay” and bi-weekly journal “Info Digest” Dr. Ma Thida also volunteers at a free clinic run by a local NGO. In October 1993, she was sentenced to 20 years in prison for “endangering public peace, having contact with illegal organizations, and distributing unlawful literature.” In 1999 she was released due to declining health, increased political pressure, and the efforts of organizations like Amnesty International and PEN International. She was awarded several international human rights awards, including the Reebok Human Rights Award (1996), the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award (1996), Freedom of Speech Award (2011) and Vaclav Havel’s Disturbing the Peace and Courageous Writer at Risk Award (2016). From 2008 to 2010, she lived in the US as an International Writers Project Fellow at Brown University and a Fellow of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard University. She was the very first elected president of PEN Myanmar (2013-16) and also elected as a board member of PEN International since 2016.
Howard Besser is Professor of Cinema Studies at New York University. He is the Founding Director of NYU’s Masters program in Moving Image Archiving & Preservation, and Professor Emeritus at UCLA’s Library School. He has taught and written about the inter-relationship between moving images and public policy. In 2009 Pr. Besser was named to the Library of Congress’ select list of “Pioneers of Digital Preservation.” He has also been involved in the creation of several library metadata standards and has published widely on media and information technology in cultural institutions.