Censorship is not unusual in an authoritarian state, but it is inexcusable when a sovereign country which safeguards press freedom as one of its constitutional rights bans a book or a movie for its content. India and Nepal recently banned No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka, a documentary about the final moments of the decades long Sri Lankan civil war. Below are the eight things you need to know before you watch the movie, which is now available online for free.
1) No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka is a feature length movie about the last dreadful months of the 26 year long Sri Lankan civil war between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil minorities.
2) The movie tells a chilling and detailed account of one of the worst war crimes and human rights violations in history. It uses personal stories of the victims, supplemented by vivid and often alarming video footages shot by both victims and the offenders.
3) The movie starts in September 2008 near northern city of Sri Lanka called Killinochchi, the de facto capital of the Tamils, where Sri Lankans armies were on the move, and the Tamil Tigers were on retreat to end the twenty-six year insurgency.
4) Movie The Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka is directed by Callum Macrae, a veteran film and documentary maker, who had won a large numbers of awards including two Royal Television Society awards, an Amnesty award and the Columbia DuPont Broadcast journalism award for his work on Japanese’s Tsunami. His current project The Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka is an outcome of three years of reporting and investigations.
5) The Central Board of Film Certification, notably known as the Indian Censor Board has refused permission for the release of a movie in the theatre stating, “ most of the visuals are of a disturbing nature and not fit for public exhibition.” Attempts to screen a movie have also met with government opposition and censorship in Nepal and Malaysia. Malaysian policemen raided a film screening to avert it from screening.
6) The film was premiered at the private screenings in Delhi and Mumbai in November 2013. Callum Macrae, the director of a movie was not granted a visa claiming he had violated visa norms in 2011.
7) A 93-minute documentary contains personal stories and testaments from Sri Lankan civilians, Tamils minorities and UN workers. According to the United Nations, 40,000 people mainly ethnic Tamils were killed in 26 years of Sri Lankan civil war, which came to an end on 2009.
8) No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka has been selected and screened in more than twenty film festivals and has won lots of awards. Since the movie was banned in several countries, the director decided to make the film available online for free, for global audiences.