Sri Lankan government suspended the 2013 French Film Festival in the capital of Colombo after the two-hour film ‘Flying Fish’ was screened before a selected, invited audience.
The festival was scheduled to run between June 18 and July 14. But a day before Sunday’s grand finale, Sri Lankan authorities halted the festival.
On Monday, the government announced that the film has been banned across the country and legal action would be taken against those involved in the making of “Flying Fish” – or ‘Igilena Maaluwo’ as it’s called in the original Sinhala language.
Speaking to reporters in Colombo, Defence Ministry official Lakshman Hulugalla called it “an illegal film which insults the security forces and the government of Sri Lanka”.
Hulugalla also added that the film uses images of the Sri Lankan military uniform without permission from the Defense Ministry.
The news of the latest film ban made headlines across Sri Lanka, with the official state media slamming director Sanjeewa Pushpakumara for dishonoring the country’s ‘much-venerated military’.
In a statement issued from South Korea, where he is based, Pushpakumara denied discrediting the military and noted that he sought to depict reality "in a humane and artistic way".
Born in 1977 in the northeastern city of Trincomalee, Pushpakumara belongs to the majority Sinhalese Buddhist community.
Reacting to the suspension of the French Film Festival, the French Embassy in Sri Lanka said the film was chosen “due to its international recognition in festivals in Asia and in France”.
the French Embassy noted that it received screening authorisation from the Sri Lankan Public Performances Board and all the screening conditions stipulated by the authorities were met.
More than two years ago, “Flying Fish” was a nominee in the main competition at the 2011 Rotterdam Film Festival.
SanjeewaPushpakumara the director of the disputed movie "Flying fish" has issued a press release to state his Stance and explanation on the film Flying Fish and the recent Bad Press about it
Sanjaeewa stated that “It was not my intention to insult or to portray a defamatory image of the security forces of Sri Lanka in any way through the film Flying Fish. Instead, my only intention was to present the realistic circumstances of war-torn lives artistically and truthfully in broad a humanist angle. The inspiration for this film is derived from the lives of me, my family and friends. The film narrates my direct or indirect personal experiences and relationships with different people who entered and departed from my life.
Being a person grown-up in a border area, I thankfully enjoy the benefits of the ending of the dreadful 30-year long war concluded. However, it is those brutal experiences of the war that I was forced to witness and experience directly while growing-up as a child, that ultimately became the subject matter for this film. I spent my childhood and my life in a village, which was controlled by the government security forces during the day, and, by the LTTE during the night. So, under these circumstances I noticed how the lives of the ordinary people, who were not involved with the army, were becoming militarized.
As a little child, I understood how this ‘militarization’ led towards creating insecurity and vulnerability in the society we were living in. I understand that the impressions I created on screen (based on my personal experiences and the reality I had lived) may not agree with the images of the war and the military that the government has constructed and want to create. After the conclusion of the war, when we talk about rebuilding and normalizing the day-to-day lives of my fellow people, we cannot gloss over or forget this unfortunate and harsh reality, because this fragmented life is the real building blocks of our tomorrow. Besides, any ideology that forgets this reality is bound to fail for the fault of its unrealistic nature. So, isn’t it necessary to accept this reality of the situation if we are to move forward? My intention was to transform that reality into a social discourse.
Throughout the making of this film (before, during or after the production) I have had no relationship whatsoever with the Tamil diaspora, NGOs or any other donor organizations as erroneously accused of by the media, and neither have I accepted any donations or funds for the production of Flying Fish from any of these organizations.
The funding for this film was done by Asia Digital Entertainment (Pvt) Ltd of Mr. Manohara Nannayakara. The film was produced with Rs 2.5 million and later the Hubert Bals Fund of Rotterdam Film Festival in Netherlands granted Euro 20,000 for its postproduction purposes.
Flying Fish is not a fiction. It is an expression of broken lives and the remains of a war-torn society.
The Free Media Movement stated that the intervention of the defense ministry in the field of art despite the institutions like the public performance board and cultural affairs ministry which has the power over the Cinema, is a clear example of how the Govt is carefully trying to militarize the public life.
A march was organized from Town Hall to Embassy of France at Barnes Place yesterday July 18th, in order to protest against the screening of the movie ‘ Flying Fish ‘ at the French Film Festival held in BMICH.
(Source: AP, Lanka Mirror)