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U.S. film festival features Black Tigers documentary

[TamilNet, Monday, 31 March 2008, 01:29 GMT]
"My daughter the terrorist," a documentary on the lives and faiths of two female Black Tigers, produced by Norwegian film maker, Beate Arnestad, is to be featured in a premier documentary film festival in the United States to be held in Durham, North Carolina 4th of April. More than 100 documentaries are to be shown during the four-day festival from 3rd to 6th April. TamilNet talked to Arnestad during her visit to the U.S. to present the documentary at the Durham festival.

Black Tigers Puhalchudar and Dharshika
Black Tigers Puhalchudar and Dharshika
Black Tiger Puhalchudar
Black Tiger Puhalchudar


Full text of the interview follows:

TamilNet: Can you tell us what drew your interest in the conflict in Sri Lanka when there are several other intra-state wars are taking place in various regions of the world?
Arnestad: I loved the country and its people! That is all I can say.

Arnestad with Maria
Arnestad with Maria
TamilNet: As a female director what impediments do you face in making documentary movies in general?
Arnestad: None! Most of the time, I see only great advantages, as long as I keep off the radical fundamentalist countries, where women cannot move around freely. In my experience, it seems like many documentary film participants feel less threatened and more confident when talking to a woman. When making documentary films, it is important to create a mutual, trustful and respectful relationship with your characters. The basis in documentary films should be trust and confidence. In this respect it is somehow different from a normal journalistic TV interview.

TamilNet: What did you hope to achieve in shooting the film? Were you able to get sponsorship from anyone to defray the cost of filming?
Arnestad: My aim was to take a close look into so called terror organizations. After 9/11 media headlines all over the world refer to suicide bombers. I wanted to make an effort trying to understand why and how young people (in my case young women within LTTE's Black Tiger division) want to blast themselves. My suspicion was always that this was more a result of total despair than evil deed. Rather than only condemning, I wanted to try to look into and understand their background, motivation, attitude and behaviour.

The film was mainly supported by the "Freedom of Speech Foundation" in Norway.

TamilNet: Can you tell us how you arrived at the script and sequences for the film?
Arnestad: The film is a result of my conversations with the 3 characters. (the two girls and the mother of Dharshika) They were all filmed on locations that brought back memories of importance for them. To include a larger audience, and to put the civil war in a larger perspective, the use of archive footage was necessary.

TamilNet: Sri Lanka Government has resisted allowing foreign reporters into Vanni. How did you manage to complete your shooting and take the material out of Sri Lanka?
Arnestad: As there is no freedom of expression in Sri Lanka, I never asked the Sri Lankan government for any permission to make this documentary film.

TamilNet: Can you also detail to our readers how you convinced the LTTE to allow you to carryout the project? Did they impose any restrictions? Did the LTTE think that the project will ultimately benefit them? If so how did you develop that trust?
Arnestad: It took more than a year before LTTE granted permission to make this film after having visited Vanni several times during the ceasefire period.(2002-2006) The two main characters (Dharsika and Puhalshudar), were handpicked through an audition organized by the LTTE. The LTTE never imposed any restrictions to what subjects and how to talk to the girls. I could travel and film more or less freely within Vanni as my aim was never to reveal any military or strategic secrets to the outside world.

TamilNet: Can you tell us what parts of the film captivated you the most? The parts of the film that brought the positives side of the LTTE, the parts that brought the positive side of the Sri Lanka Government, the most negatives sides of both protagonists?
Arnestad: This is hard to answer. My main interest was getting to know the three characters in the film; the girls for trusting me with their personal memories and experiences and also the mother who I have great admiration for, who trusted me with her life story. My belief is that through connecting with individuals living in tormented and war-broken societies, it is easier for a larger audience to care and engage in issues taking place far away as all of us are living in a steadily smaller global village. We just have to care.

TamilNet: You have been screening the film in different parts of the world. Can you tell us how this phase went, the reactions of the audience, and film critics?
Arnestad: Mostly very positive reactions. The film is being broadcasted and invited to participate at film festivals all over the world.

TamilNet: We understand that you have DVDs of the film. Can you give us the details of where readers can obtain copies?
Arnestad: Please see:
Worldwide distributor: www.oslodocs.com or contact oslodocs@dokumentarkino.no
US Distributor: www.wmm.com

Director: Beate Arnestad
Producer/Co-Director: Morten Daae
Cinematographer: Frank Alvegg
Production Company: Snitt Film Production
Preview URL: http://www.snitt.no/mdtt/prints/movie.htm


Chronology:


Related Articles:
15.02.08   Producers of documentary on Women Tigers showcase new film


External Links:
FFFEST: U.S. film festival: My Daughter the Terrorist
FIFDH: Paris film festival: Ma fille la terroriste
US: Women Make Movies: US Distributor

 

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