The Island has posted an douchey response to this film – Kerosene. Sometimes you have knee-jerk reactions so much that you end up kicking everything – the chair, the cat, the coil. Too many people (on whatever side) put their agenda before what’s in front of them, and that’s what the Island is doing here. They’re accusing Kannan of targeting the government, but he’s just telling stories. In this case, literally transmitting the voices of old taxi drivers and mechanics in Jaffna.
I must admit, I saw that the film was sponsored by Groundviews and thought that it would be (negative) agenda-driven as well, ie, complaining about how Sri Lanka sucks and demanding the usual pound of flesh from the government. But it’s not. There is actually no external narrative to the film at all. It’s just mechanics and taxi drivers talking about what actually happened. Blaming the content on Kannan is a bit like blaming a mirror.
Anyways, here’s the Island’s piece, for reference:
One of the four short movies shown at the Galle Lit Festival 2012 on Friday targeted Sri Lanka over banning transport of medicine, fuel and food to the northern Jaffna peninsula in the 90s.
Directed by Kannan Arunasalam’s ‘ Kerosene’ which had been used previously by those campaigning against the present government, wouldn’t have upset any if the event wasn’t sponsored by countries trying to haul Sri Lanka up before an international war crimes tribunal…
When the sponsors declared that they were independent and the Sri Lankan state had nothing to do with the Galle Lit Festival, the journalist pointed out Norway and the Netherlands were among the sponsors.
This is dumb for multiple reasons A) the film was average people telling their truth B) I guess that ‘used by people’ would be the Groundviews type affiliation, but that’s not the film itself C) the sponsorship thing is just dumb, those governments also ‘sponsor’ the government and, again, the film is not the venue.
There is this tendency from both the government and people hostile to the government to lump any stimulus into their preset agenda ie, ‘Everybody Hates Us’ or ‘We Really Do Hate Them’. This should be resisted. There are a lot of human beings in between, and this film just transmits their voices.
All I could say is to watch the film, and check out Kannan’s IAM project (
an ode to 50 Cent a collection of direct narratives from the elderly and awesome). I had to get past the sponsors and venue and usual battle lines, but if you just watch the films it is what it says on the box. Old people talking about their memories, simply accounting the past. It’s a worthwhile and entertaining record to have and behold. I suppose we must thank The Island for giving it publicity.