The producer of the movie Bahuchithawadiya, Malaka Devapriya has decided to pull-out his movie in solidarity, of the maker of the movie Demons in Paradise-Jude Ratnam, from a Film Festival in Jaffna, Sri Lanka.
Demons in Paradise, which was submitted to many international festivals including Cannes, was to be screened at the Majestic Cinema in Jaffna at 6.45pm as a part of the Film Festival agenda was pulled-out without an explanation. However, there was a build-up of protests against the contents of the film in recent weeks.
Malaka Devapriya withdrew his film Bahuchithawadiya from the festival as a way of protesting the Film Festival Committee’s decision to remove Demons in Paradise from the event. Malaka stated that even though he does not agree with the contents of the film, Demons in Paradise, he stands in solidarity with Jude Ratnam and his freedom of artistic expression.
According to reports, Malaka talked about the hostile atmosphere in Sri Lanka for creative arts and the freedom of expression, “Few racist and fundamentalist groups are working towards creating national discourse and censoring of the arts, which can damage not only the arts, but the society and country as a whole, “The pressure from these repressive forces continues unabated and at present, an investigation is being carried out by The Unit to Investigate Organized Crime because of four separate complaints lodged against my work by four groups. At a moment when I am facing the wrath of the machinery of repression, which calls creation an organized crime, I cannot maintain double standards when it comes to my position regarding censorship of the arts.”
The film-maker elaborated by stating, “An artist’s expression can be partial or have dual or multiple points of view. That is determined by the autonomy and practice of the respective artist. The narrow-minded accusations made in the past against Prasanna, Handagama, Vimukthi, Sudath Mahadiwulwewa and Sanjeewa were also based on claims that their films depicted a one-sided view of the military, race, religion and the State. This, however, doesn’t provide grounds to censor these works. Once it is screened for the public, a critique can be developed. It is the same for Jude Ratnam’s film. Once it is screened it can be criticized. Although, personally, I do not agree with the ideology of his film, I stand for the films’ right to be screened.”
Malaka added further, “he official responses put forward to justify the rejection are also ineffectual. Taking this situation into consideration, I have decided to withdraw my film ‘Bahuchithawadiya’ (The Undecided) from the festival. The basic reason for this is that I cannot maintain double standards with regards to censorship. It is true that it’s a difficult task to organize an annual film festival within an anarchist state and social system. I respect the fact that the festival has been able to continue for several consecutive years. My objection is not directed at the public nor at those representing Tamil political ideologies but at the festival organizers who removed the film.”