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Media not highlighting the human tragedy in Sri Lanka: filmmaker

[Hindu, Thursday, 25 June 2009 07:05 No Comment]

“The media has been generally shy of highlighting the magnitude of the human tragedy in Sri Lanka during the long civil war. Even after the defeat of the LTTE, the whole of the island nation is under military control. Human rights are violated and journalists are assaulted and imprisoned,” says S. Somatheeran, a Sri Lankan journalist participating in the ongoing International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala.

Addressing a Meet-the-Directors programme organised by the Press Club and the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy here on Tuesday, Mr. Somatheeran, who had moved to Chennai for further studies at Loyola College, said people seemed to be obsessed with LTTE supremo Prabhakaran. “I am repeatedly asked whether Prabhakaran had actually been killed. It is surprising that the death of so many people in the civil war and the suffering of many others have not evoked so much response.”

Mr. Somatheeran said the press in his home country were muzzled.


“It is not only the Tamils that are suffering. The Sinhalese also have to bear the atrocities committed by the military.

“The government is mobilising funds for reconstruction in the North but no one is allowed to visit the place.” Mr. Somatheeran said the bloated Sri Lankan military had become a burden for the nation. Burning Memories, a documentary by Mr. Somatheeran that is being screened at the festival, depicts one of the most traumatic events of the early stages of the civil war in Sri Lanka — the burning of the Jaffna Public Library, which housed more than 97,000 books and precious palm-leaf manuscripts.

Cultural loss

The incident represented a major loss to the cultural heritage of the island nation. The film attempts to portray how war has shaped the socio political situation in the country.

Suppressed desires

Janal (Window) directed by Sajeev Pazhoor, a Malayalam journalist, is a short fiction film depicting voyeurism, lust, suppressed sexual desires and nostalgia. Mr. Pazhoor uses the symbol of a window to unravel the average Malayali male’s approach to sex.

The protagonist in the film witnesses a rush of erotic memories when he comes across the window of his demolished house. He decides to use the window for his new house.

“There is no element of sex in the film. I have only used images that represent one’s approach to the subject,” says Mr. Pazhoor.

“Nostalgia is another strong element I have used,” he adds. The film has been entered in the Information section of the festival.

Film maker Sanjeev Sivan who was also present at the programme spoke about the importance of a universally- acceptable subject while attempting a documentary.

“All the features of a film, namely introduction, conflict and ending, are common to a documentary also. What makes it different is the treatment. That is also the reason why documentaries are less viable,” he explained.

Not a good market

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