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Films 2015 - Sri Lanka - No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka

No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka

Director: Callum Macrae, 2013

Language: English
49 minutes – UK

SYNOPSIS: An intense documentary about the final awful months of the 26-year-long Sri Lankan civil war, as told by the people who lived through it. …A chilling expose of war crimes and crimes against humanity, told through extraordinary personal stories and shown through dramatic and disturbing video evidence.

The film documents the horror of this war in footage recorded by both victims and perpetrators on mobile phones and small cameras, capturing direct evidence of war crimes, summary execution, torture, and sexual violence.

The film starts in September 2008, when an air of deep foreboding hung over Kilinochchi, the de facto capital of the Tamil homelands of Northern Sri Lanka. The armed forces of the ultra-nationalist Sinhalese government of Sri Lanka were on the move, and the brutal secessionist army of the Tamil Tigers was retreating. After 26 years of war, the scene was set for the final awful endgame.

The filmmakers looked at and translated hours of raw footage showing the day-to-day life of the people who lived and in many cases died during the 138 days of hell which form the central narrative of the film.

The film is built around compelling personal stories. There is a young British Tamil visiting relatives in Sri Lanka who became trapped, along with hundreds of thousands of other men, women, and children, desperately fleeing the government onslaught. Trained as a medical technician in the UK, she found herself helping in a makeshift hospital while doctors treated hundreds of badly injured people, in some cases performing major surgery without general anaesthetic. Others who tell their stories include two of the last UN workers to leave Sri Lanka. Inevitably, too, this film is the story of some who didn’t make it.

No Fire Zone brings the story up to date. The Sri Lankan government still denies all this happened. The repression and ethnic restructuring of the Tamil homelands in the north of Sri Lanka continues, and journalists and government critics are still disappearing. The government will tolerate no opposition, and has even turned on its own judiciary.

Without truth there can be no justice in Sri Lanka. And without justice there can be no peace. This film is part of that truth-telling.

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