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Sri Lankan director's anger over film ban

Government says civil war documentary insults army

<p>Members of the Self-Employed Persons Association march against the film</p>

Members of the Self-Employed Persons Association march against the film

  • ucanews.com reporter, Colombo
  • Sri Lanka
  • July 18, 2013
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A prominent Sri Lankan filmmaker has responded angrily to a decision by the government to ban screenings of a documentary he made on the country’s 26-year long civil war.

Sanjeewa Pushpakumara, director of the internationally lauded Flying Fish, denied accusations that he had attempted to discredit and insult the country's army, which was heavily criticized for its final assault on the Tamil Tigers in 2009 that ended the conflict.

“Coming from a war-torn, eastern Sri Lanka I witnessed how the lives of ordinary people who were not a part of the military were becoming militarized,” he told ucanews.com today.

“The banning of the film is a denial of the rights of people as well as mine. If the ban is continued it would be dangerous for … all independent filmmakers like me,” he said.

A film festival organized by the French embassy in Colombo has been suspended after airing the film, which explores the deep social and psychological trauma inflicted on Sri Lankans by the war.

Distribution and screening of the film inside Sri Lanka have now been stopped, said government security spokesman Lakshman Hulugalle.

Pushpakumara has however won support from fellow filmmakers, including Prasanna Vithanage, one of Sri Lanka’s most notable directors, whose film about the civil war, Death on a Full Moon Day, was also banned.

“The military will use this incident and will curtail even the limited freedom enjoyed by artists in Sri Lanka,” he said.

He added that the public should have the right to decide what they see and make their own evaluations of films.

A pro-government demonstration was organized in front of the French embassy in Colombo to protest over the film. Demonstrators chanted slogans saying, “Do not disgrace our war heroes.”

A UN resolution has called for an independent investigation into alleged war crimes committed by both sides during the country’s civil war, which ended in 2009.

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