Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Saturday, February 23, 2019

Movie Review: “No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka”

Grade: A-

“No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka” is a chilling documentary by filmmaker Callum Macrae on the civil war in Sri Lanka. The documentary follows the recent conflict between the Tamil ethnic minority and the Sri Lankan government.

AU held a screening of the film on February 4 in the Doyle/Forman Theatre in the School of Communication as part of a partnership with Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting. This is the first event held by the partnership.

The documentary opens with a series of loud bangs from shellings and text explaining the conflict. It then segways into a surprising, offbeat opening credits set to “Paper Planes” by M.I.A., an artist of Sri Lankan Tamilian descent herself. The dance club-like music is abruptly cut off and the film immediately delves into nearly two hours of images and testimonials.

Beginning in 2008, the Sri Lankan government began to crack down on the pseudo-state of the Talim Eemal in northern Sri Lanka, controlled by the guerilla group the Liberation Tigers of Tamil. The documentary certainly succeeds in illustrating the war crimes committed by the Sri Lankan government. Macrae uses raw images and videos of the conflict to show what the Sri Lankan government denies.

The documentary contains nearly two hours of grotesque and shocking images of murder and blatant crimes against humanity. Despite the film’s gruesome nature, it never seemed like its only aim was shock value. It was a clear attempt to convince the international community, which failed to intervene during this dire situation, that the Sri Lankan government has lied to media and misconstrued the civil war.

After the screening, Bill Gentile, an SOC journalist in residence, moderated a panel, which included School of International Service professor Carolyn Gallaher and Washington College of Law professor Juan Mendez. The three commented on the current state of Sri Lanka and the lack of response from the international community in regard to the war crimes committed against the Tamilans. Macrae told the audience that the situation in Sri Lanka is not over and nowhere near a resolution.

“The crimes have you seen in that film have not finished,” Macrae said.

@emilykbader -

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