DMovies - Your platform for thought-provoking cinema

Demons in Paradise

Director - Jude Ratnam - 2017

"Dirty gem"
The Brits are the devil: how the legacy of shortsighted British imperialism led an extremely violent and continuous civil war in Sri Lanka - doc live from Cannes

QUICK SNAP: LIVE FROM CANNES

This film is both extremely personal and extremely universal. Personal because Canada-based Tamil-born documentarist Jude Ratnam travels back to his homeland Sri Lanka, which he fled decades earlier as a refugee, and opens up profound wounds of the past. And universal because it’s borderline impossible not to relate to his tragic personal history.

Demons in Paradise explores the Civil War between the dominant Sinhalese and the abject Tamil, which has ravaged the country since its independence from the UK. The demons in the title are the ghosts of an irresponsible handover from the British colonisers to the Sinhalese in 1948, the director clarifies very early on in the movie. This conflict remains largely unknown or ignored in the West, making this documentary an extremely urgent denunciation tool and piece of filmmaking.

One of the most powerful moments in the movie is the emotional moment when director encounters the family who hid his family from the Sinhalese oppressors, who would undoubtedly had killed them. Later on in the movie, the director breaks down as he recalls two friends who sheltered him but never survived the conflict. He also remembers how he had to disguise himself as farmer in order to flee the country, and how speaking Tamil could lead to immediate death. The linguistic oppression might ring some bells in Europe, particularly to Spanish people who experienced the Franco regime. Sadly Jude Ratnam’s experience is less foreign than we’d like to think.

The banal cruelty of the Sinhalese would make an excellent case study for Hannah Arendt. They would pierce Tamil militants in the eyes, burn their back with a hot iron, throw them off fast-moving trains, shoot them through the head (in a practice nicknamed “crown of flowers”) and burn children alive inside tires doused in petrol.

The director wraps up the film by noting that the Civil War may be over, but the latent hatred and fear are not. He believes that the problems haven’t been solved, and therefore the conflict could resume at any moment. This is not the only film this year to expose the consequences of cynical and careless British imperialism in Asia. Gurinder Chadha’s Viceroy’s House dealt with the issue in neighbouring India.

Demons in Paradise is showing as part of the 70th Cannes International Film Festival. The movie is a special screening, and it’s not in the official competition. The importance of the film should not be understated: this is the first Sri Lankan film ever to show in the Festival.



"Dirty gem"

By Victor Fraga - 25-05-2017

By Victor Fraga - 25-05-2017

Victor Fraga is a Brazilian born and London-based writer with more than 15 years of in...

DMovies Poll

Do/would you go to the cinema in order to watch documentaries?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Most Read

François Ozon probably doesn’t get much sleep. At [Read More...]
Pigs might fly. And so Brexit might happen. [Read More...]
Time flies by! DMovies was launched in February [Read More...]
American novelist Dennis Cooper’s cinematic debut feels like [Read More...]
It’s 2018, and neoliberalism is steadily morphing into [Read More...]
On the occasion of the UK release of [Read More...]

Read More

On Body and Soul (Testről és lélekről)

Ildikó Enyedi
2017

Jeremy Clarke - 19-09-2017

See you in my dreams! Golden Bear winner is an oneiric romance set against the unlikely backdrop of an abattoir - out in cinemas this week [Read More...]

Five dirty picks from the Raindance Film Festival

 

Victor Fraga - 18-09-2017

Check out top five recommendations for the Raindance Film Festival, one of the largest showcases for independent cinema in the world, starting this week in London [Read More...]

The Road Movie

Dmitrii Kalashnikov
2017

Victor Fraga - 14-09-2017

This jaw-dropping documentary entirely filmed from dashcams on Russian cars provides a shocking, bleak and despondent portrait of the largest country in the world - at Hot Docs London [Read More...]

Facebook Comment

Website Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *