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Original title: Min Datter Terroristen
Length: 60 min. Year: 2007
Language: Tamil. Subtitles: English, Norwegian, French
Director: Beate Arnestad
Producer: Morten Daae
Synopsis: This documentary film is unique in its access to the lives and minds of two young girls in Sri Lanka who have committed themselves to the Black Tigers: the elite troops of the Tamil Tigers LTTE, dedicated to guerrilla attacks using martyrs. The girls know they will sacrifice their lives for the cause.
Dharsika and Puhalchudar belong to the last batch of the Black Tigers, and are now equipped for the last mission: strapping an American-made Claymore mine to their bodies, able to blow themselves and everything within 100 feet to pieces.
The girls have a close friendship. For seven years they have been eating, sleeping, training and fighting side by side. We meet Dharsika’s mother, who has been struggling to bring up her family in a war-torn society. She tells us that Dharsika stayed with the family just long enough to bury her father, then disappeared into the guerilla’s hands.
Sri Lanka is a country of great relevance for Norwegian foreign policy, but one which gets minimal coverage in the main media. This film gives a truely unique view of the conflict and an insight of the powers that drive those prepared to sacrifice everything for their cause.
See a short Clips:
Full text of the interview follows: Source Tamilnet
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.
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?
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