28 October, 2020

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Anomaa Rajakaruna’s Evasive Response To Demons In Paradise Removal: Still No Reasons Given To Director 

In an evasive response to be controversy over the removal of Jude Ratnam’s film ‘Demons in Paradise’ from the Jaffna film festival, Anomaa Rajakaruna, the festival director said Ratnam should have started “sincere dialogue” before going public over the matter.

The response, strangely, does not explain why the film was removed from the festival at the eleventh hour, and what led the the organizers to make their questionable decision.

“Jaffna International Cinema Festival’s application criteria is twofold. Film makers apply for competition sections and films are invited for special screenings and discussions. 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,” Rajakaruna says.

“Jude Ratnam’s film which was premiered on 24th May 2017 has been traveling to many international film festivals abroad and had many screenings in the South of
Sri Lanka. The film never had a public screening in the North of the Country particularly in the Jaffna peninsula. He was reluctant to take the film to the location where a majority of the film was shot. One wonders why? Why was he reluctant to take his film there during the last 16 months? ” she asked.

The question, however, is not the public screening of the film, but the organizers’ sudden decision to remove it from the schedule under mysterious circumstances. Rajakaruna, curiously, maintains silence over this core question.

She goes on to add, “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.

Jaffna International Cinema Festival’s application criteria is twofold. Film makers apply for competition sections and films are invited for special screenings and discussions. 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.

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 filmmakers as well, in a nation divided by identity politics.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Rajan Hoole has taken on Rajakaruna’s statement as it has fallen short of addressing the issue at hand.

“You had only been asked for a proper explanation of why the film was removed from the schedule. Instead you have resorted to innuendo against the Director Jude Ratnam implying charges that have no flesh. The issues involved are so crucial that we expect a higher standard of civic morality from you.”

“I am a resident of Jaffna who has read several commendatory reviews about the film and was happy that it was scheduled for screening here. There is an immense need for people here to be able to hear different views and be exposed other ways of seeing our history, especially the darker side that is assiduously blocked out by our politicians, media and especially the University. It is only then that they could break out of the propaganda monolith that is intent on keeping us in a kind of political stone-age.

I am not surprised that Dr. Raguram of the Department of Media studies had ‘visitors’. I immediately sensed the kind of atmosphere where concerted attempts were made in 2014 and 2015 to stop the commemoration of Dr. Rajani Thiranagama at the University and then to stop the discussion of Palmyra Fallen, my book commemorating Rajani, in the Library Auditorium of the same University, ” Hoole said.

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Latest comments

  • 5
    1

    The festival director’s response implies that Jaffna is a tribal society (deeply divided) which cannot tolerate dissent.
    This is an orientalist trope used by external parties and intelligence outfits like India’s RAW , CIA or Mossad which seek to weaponize ethnic, religious caste and gender differences that exist in all societies, in order to undermine them, aka. counter-terrorism ops. under the guise of progressive and liberal intervention.
    Of course she is from the well funded Colombo NGO circle that promote superficial conflict narratives to keep the billion dollar Human rights and fake reconciliation industry going..

  • 6
    0

    One of the objections to screening the film, from the talk in Jaffna, stems from the film Director’s comment, carried also in a BBC feature: “When the war was coming to an end, I wanted the [Tamil] Tigers to lose the fight. I wanted it to end, even if my own people had to be killed.”
    If we are honest, we must face the fact that the statement is the tip of the iceberg that testifies to the intense trauma of the community. The sympathies of a community that were fairly united in 1983 were fragmented and blown to smithereens by the internal conflict. We, particularly the University, must face that reality.
    The great German dissident Dietrich Bonhoeffer said that Nazism and the Nazi State must be destroyed in order that the German Nation may live.
    The present approach among the dominant Tamil elite is to strait-jacket the outlook of the community by using the methods of LTTE propaganda to enforce a fetishised unity around LTTE symbols and its pantheon of heroes.
    The University should welcome the film and challenge the Director in a discussion. Much is to be gained by shedding hypocrisy. Had the builders of postwar Germany tried to fetishise Nazi ideology and symbols, where would Germany be today?

    • 2
      2

      The LTTE crudely imposed a dictatorship on the Lankan Tamil Nation. The LTTE, in its earlier strength, is no more. But there remain many unapologetic adherents – in Jaffna, in Toronto and elsewhere. The “Collectors” have not entirely disappeared. They are mainly faceless but still carry much insidious influence in the Tamil diaspora and the NEP. This is detrimental and negative for the Tamils in the Island and the diaspora. The factors that gave legitimacy to the LTTE in the continued Tamil struggle is legitimate and deserves sympathy. But some of the fascistic features in the tightly-controlled organisation were clearly undemocratic. They harmed the ordinary Tamils more than the good it brought to the community. The JVP story is no different. So the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. It is a shame today’s Jaffna is still under the heels of different forms of fascism.

      Vanangamudi

    • 3
      1

      Rajan Hoole,
      ‘The great German dissident Dietrich Bonhoeffer said that Nazism and the Nazi State must be destroyed in order that the German Nation may live’.
      ‘Had the builders of postwar Germany tried to fetishise Nazi ideology and symbols, where would Germany be today?’.
      _______
      .
      Two totally different situations. Irrelevant quote. Unfair question.
      ________
      .
      I am not defending anyone or anything here. But muddling up an argument is like muzzling an opinion.

    • 1
      2

      Good comparison, RJH. Both the Nazis and LTTE were products of their time. Conceived by megalomaniacs who had strong grievances against the State. Fascism and totalitarianism became the modus operandi. What is astonishing is that people do not realize that the LTTE became more repressive than the State it claimed to fight. Just like the Nazis, it could only cement its chokehold on the populace at the point of a gun.

    • 0
      0

      ” The present approach among the dominant Tamil elite is to strait-jacket the outlook of the community by using the methods of LTTE propaganda to enforce a fetishised unity around LTTE symbols and its pantheon of heroes. “
      You are deviating from the topic and not ready to comprehend (the final authority’s, it seems,) Anomaa Rajakaruna’s reply. Why are you bringing here Tamil elites? Aren’t your families claiming you are more famous than Arumuka Navalar? Is that not attempting to establish your elite fame? Be on your point please. There is UN sponsored resolution & in that Lankawe government has signed to investigate the War Crime against Tamils and carry out reconciliation. Jude Ratnam wanted LTTE lose in the war. That is very controversial opinion at a very critical time. That is an opinion which has to be evaluated before his film is screened. To help in that Anomaa Rajakaruna’s asked this question why Jude Ratnam has not attempted to play this movie for 1 1/2 years in North. You did not answer to that question. But you evaded it but still saying that there big need to see this film. Why you or Jude did not try to exploit this opportunity? If you have an answer to that question, why didn’t you to like to provide it to her but went on a confrontation path and told that she is not coming to the core question? Is that your point that because she removed it from the schedule, so convincing her by honestly answering her question and have it relisted will disgrace your elite pride? Even if she finally refuse to relist, why didn’t you attempt to answer her and see what is going to happen? I am sure there is no Tamil elites are in this because the decision is made by a Sinhala Lady.

    • 1
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      Apparently she has well understood the Jude Ratnam’s purpose of making the film. “That is to defeat any leftover of LTTE as a continuation of Genocide War”. She understands well those who complained about the move. They feel this movie is oppressors’ proxies’ production; a propaganda material; not film. Please explain what make to come to the conclusion why Jaffna Tamils specially“There is an immense need for people here to be able to hear different views and be exposed other ways of seeing our history, especially the darker side that is assiduously blocked out by our politicians, media “ Could you provide examples that Politicians and Media assiduously blocking Social Development material of recognized quality? If there is an immense need for it in Jaffna, then why Jude was reluctant to use the opportunity to appeal to Jaffna Tamils to put pressure on the evaluating committee to the have the movie included, but he raised his tail and ran to his Southern Masters? Is that because he hates Jaffna Tamils and that is why he made that movie on them? You say there is need for public screening , but neither you Jude acted on that, still you say “The question, however, is not the public screening of the film, “ Is the whole intention is to convoluting the people?
      Let’s get to the other part of the question “the organizers’ sudden decision to remove it from the schedule under mysterious circumstances. Rajakaruna, curiously, maintains silence over this core question.” She is not silent, but she is plainly open than anything you or Jude is willing to release needed info about this film. She has replied that the (mysterious) partner was told the movie will not be screened. Then where is this core question is coming from? Do you have the final schedule the festival committee announced of the movies going to be screened in the festival? Listen, even if you have a tentative schedule but, the committee officially announced, I would like to see that.

    • 0
      1

      Jude Ratnam’s film came to the festival through a partner of the festival Why somebody’s name in the essay is hidden as partner of the Festival? Is that you or do you know that person? Do you have any kind of direct participation in the festival organization? Did somebody tried to put the movie in the screening list without the committee decide on that?

      ” He was reluctant to take the film to the location where a majority of the film was shot. One wonders why? Why was he reluctant to take his film there during the last 16 months? Please don’t tell me that is not what the question you asked her, but please answer her question to face the reality you and Jude are plotting here. Don’t be a hypocrite. Please uplift yourself as a PhD holder. Before you preach the Jaffna mass to face the reality, can you face the reality by honestly answering her question and shut up her mouth. You are evading but you are blaming that she is evading. Again it is your hypocrisy! Can you corporate, instead confronting, by fully answering her question so she can evaluate the controversial comment Jude Ratnam made before she accommodate your propaganda or advertisement flim? You guys have lot of master plan so there is lot of Pottu Kaatti in your throat to answer her question.
      What suddenly made you and Jude to hatch this big idea after 1 1/2 years?
      I like one more explanation from you: You are claiming this is a social awaking movie. Are you and Jude Ratnam ready to release all funding sources from day 1 on filming and screening? How much this social reformist Jude Ratnam is ready to release his last 6 years Income detail. Don’t just evade and claims that is irrelevant to the movie’s Content. Please don’t think all babies and going to buy your talks.

    • 1
      0

      None of Rajan Hoole’s colleagues have joined him in this tirade about the film. Says a lot.
      .
      Rajan Hoole is comparing the civil war to WW2. Surely the Nazi movement did not start off as a liberation movement. Nazis did not turn to militancy because they were at the wrong end of pogroms for about 35 years.
      .
      The man says ~ “The great German dissident Dietrich Bonhoeffer said that Nazism and the Nazi State must be destroyed in order that the German Nation may live”.
      Of course Rajan has successive GoSL in mind! Yes we agree that the MR regime fetishized ideology and symbols.
      .
      Rajan has no idea as to what liberation movements are about.

  • 5
    1

    It is obvious the festival director and the festival committee chair have succumbed to threats by “visitors” from the “Community.” Some of these “visitors” are in the university and in the festival committee itself. Jaffna society usually blames the Sinhalese and the government for all their faults. But in this case there was no meddling by the south. So now foreign agents are being cooked up for their own attack on free speech and freedom of artistic expression in Jaffna. This film has already been screened several times in the south without hindrance by the southern demons. At the peak of its power, the LTTE was on a honeymoon with the western human rights industry, and when total annihilation seemed inevitable, it cried out for liberal intervention by the West. Hence no amount of theorizing is going to help Tamil people solve their problems – only genuine, sincere self-reflection and introspection can. Allowing the screening of DEMONS IN PARADISE would be an ideal first step.

  • 2
    3

    Dear Organisers,
    The joke concerning the Jaffna International Cinema Festival has gone too far. ‘Demons of Paradise’ was scheduled for screening at Jaffna University on 5th October. It is an internationally accredited film and an international festival. As organisers you have a responsibility to the world and to the locality, to uphold the sanctity of the University as a democratic space.
    Your letter trying to explain the removal of Jude Ratnam’s film does not uphold the dignity that becomes your role and responsibility – rather it is replete with innuendo against an internationally acclaimed director and equivocation that does not add up.
    It is becoming clear through local and press sources, and circumstantial factors, that the organising committee and Dr. Raguram, in particular, were subject to what amounts to intimidation. Raguram’s silence is deafening. Someone made a Facebook posting in Tamil saying that Raguram threatened to resign from the position of presiding officer of the festival, as his ‘democratic right’, if the impugned film is screened. It is clear that something is wrong and we, the public, are not being told the truth. We are rather being treated to a flavour of comedy with terror one encounters in Graham Greene novels.
    The first thing the organisers should have done is to go to the University authorities and tell them to take measures so that the film could be screened, and if they cannot create conditions for the screening, you, the organisers, would go public with the true reasons.
    Jaffna is not Pyongyang and we must try to ensure that the people there enjoy the democratic freedoms that are their constitutional right.
    Sincerely,
    Rajan Hoole

    • 0
      0

      Rajan Hoole thinks that 2018 Jaffna International Cinema Festival furore over ‘Demons of Paradise’ is a joke gone too far.
      To drive home his point of view he says ~ “Someone made a Facebook posting in Tamil saying that Raguram threatened to resign from the position of presiding officer of the festival, as his ‘democratic right’, if the impugned film is screened”.
      Face book posting is just gossip. Sighting the posting is scraping the bottom of barrel.
      One is reminded the 1927 Herbert Farjeon song “I’ve danced with a man, who’s danced with a girl, who’s danced with the Prince of Wales……”.
      Jude Ratnam was after ‘publicity publicity publicity’. He got it.
      What is Rajan after?
      .
      Rajan pontificates that we must ensure that the people of Jaffna ~ “……..enjoy the democratic freedoms that are their constitutional right”.
      Yes, we have tried to win this right for the past seventy years.
      Any suggestions Rajan?

  • 1
    2

    Jude Ratnam got what he wanted – publicity publicity publicity.
    The Lankan Army Commander Lieutenant General Mahesh W. Senanayke recently told MS that he crushes skulls of dissenters.
    We have lot of crushed skulls.
    Jude Ratnam: We value your freedom to express but do you see the ‘victor’ syndrome governance affecting our every day life?

  • 3
    0

    Jude Ratnem and his uncle have their own politics that goes against the popular views of the majority in Jaffna. Jude ratnam wants publicity (cheap) thats what he is after. He doesnot have the sincerity and boldness of a real artist. He is an opportunist. No one in their right mind will condone what LTTE did, but their creation was a historical necessity. Thats why there were so many militant groups in the north and the east at one time (in one of which Jude’s uncle was a member). This is not a great film it is opportunists’ opportunistic film. its is not a balanced portrayal of the events. why cannot Hoole screen this film at his house in Jaffna if he so concerned and sure that Jaffna people need to see it. Hoole again has made use of the situation and made opportunists’ opportunistic statements. Poor Anoma did not realise the undercurrents in the Jaffna community and thought she can make big name by screening the film. A buckled opportunists’ opportunistic move…..

    • 0
      0

      Kirikalan
      “…but their creation was a historical necessity.”
      Only a warped mind like yours may consider the following was a ‘necessity’:

      “Black July (Tamil: கறுப்பு யூலை, translit. Kaṟuppu Yūlai; Sinhalese: කළු ජූලිය Kalu Juliya) is the common name used to refer to the anti-Tamil pogrom[3] and riots in Sri Lanka during July 1983. The riots began as a “response” to a deadly ambush on 23 July 1983 by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a Tamil militant group, that killed 13 Sri Lanka Army soldiers. Beginning in the capital Colombo on the night of 24 July 1983, anti-Tamil pogroms spread to other parts of the country. Over seven days, mobs, mainly Sinhalese, attacked Tamil targets, burning, looting, and killing. Estimates of the death toll range between 400 and 3,000.[4][5] 8,000 homes and 5,000 shops were destroyed.[6] 150,000 people were made homeless.[7] The economic cost of the riots was $300 million.[7] A wave of Sri Lankan Tamils fled to other countries in the ensuing years and many thousands of Tamil youths joined militant groups.[4][5]”

      Soma

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