The internationally renowned film ‘Demons in Paradise’ which was competed at the prestigious Cannes Film festival in France has been removed from being screened at the International Jaffna Cinema Festival starting this weekend, its Director Jude Ratnam said.
Issuing media release, he said the festival organizers of the Jaffna International Cinema Festival had decided to remove the film directed by him from its scheduled programme allegedly over pressure from a group known only as the 'Community' in Jaffna.
“I have not yet been given a proper explanation for the removal of my film from the festival schedule. I feel this is a case of censorship and an infringement on the fundamental rights to freedom of expression,” Ratnam said. “My film was invited by the Jaffna International Cinema Festival this year and the screening was scheduled for October 5, 2018 at 6. 45 pm at the Majestic Cineplex Jaffna. I had provided the film to the festival with the required technical standards, press material and with the copy of the Public Performance Board Certificate (U -All Audience).”
‘Demons in Paradise’, a mostly biographical film, unearths the grisly bitter truth about Sri Lanka’s war from the point of view of an ‘insider’. With actual facts, real life incidents and original people involved in the conflict, the film was nominated for two awards Golden Camera and Golden Eye at the Cannes last year.
Meanwhile, issuing a counter statement referring to the statement by Jude Ratnam, Jaffna International Cinema Festival Director Anoma Rajakaruna said Jude Ratnam’s film which was premiered on May 24, 2017 had been travelling to many international film festivals abroad and had many screenings in the South of Sri Lanka and added he did not take his the film in the North particularly in the Jaffna peninsula for a public screening.
In his statement Jude mentions that, “Thus far I have not been given a proper explanation for the removal of my film DEMONS IN PARADISE from the festival schedule” which is not accurate, Anoma said in her statement.
Jude Ratnam’s film came to the festival through a partner of the festival who has presented his film at other locations in the South. The organizing committee has explained to the partner organization about their decision which was then relayed to Ratnam. Subsequently, the partner went into discussion with Ratnam about starting a dialogue about the removal and overall freedom of expression, she explained.
“We have kept the slot allocated for Jude Ratnam’s film on the schedule open. We would have started a discussion on the freedom of expression. It is sad that Jude Ratnam chose to walk out of the discussion to issue a press statement in the South of the country without considering our offer or the implications. If the intended discussion took place, it would have opened up a space not just for the screening of one film, but for many other screenings of other film makers as well, in a nation divided by identity politics,” Anoma added.