8 May 2006, mid-morning
The contempt the Sri Lankan government shows for the people it is there to serve is oh-so-palatable in the documentary From Dust. The film is about the after-effects of the Tsunami that leveled much of Sri Lanka’s coasts. I can take heart in the knowledge the Sri Lankan government has no qualms about screwing over the Sinhalese as well as the Tamils when it comes to misappropriating coastal land. In the eyes of the Sri Lankan government there is only One People in Sri Lanka; Sri Lankans of all walks of life, from all ethnic backgrounds, are ripe to be taken advantage of. It’s touching really. (Well, no; that’s a lie.)
Much of From Dust is spent talking to a few families that are trying to rebuild their lives after they lost their homes and their loved ones. The rest of the time is spent showing how the Sri Lankan government has done little to nothing to help those effected by the Tsunami, despite sitting on something like a billion dollars in foreign aid. The film, like many at Hotdocs, makes you angry. I liked it a lot. Haran and his sister both enjoyed the film as well, though he felt it was a bit meandering at times, and I suppose I would agree with him. The films focus is on one fishing village in the South West, though it is clear that what is going on their is going on all over the Island. Unfortunately, the director couldn’t travel to the North and East parts of the island, those areas under LTTE control, or under the control of the Army (like Jaffna).
Haran has the interesting — is that the right word? — perspective of actually being in Sri Lanka when the waves hit. (There are two other posts that follow-up on his initial reaction to the disaster: Melodrama Much? and Mullaithivu.) Haran got to see the LTTE’s response to the waves first hand. He said it was like night-and-day comparing the slow paced, “what the fuck are we supposed to do?”, response from the government with the fast and efficient response from the Tigers. I suppose when you have a military organization which is trained to deal with refugees of war, the mass displacement of people due to natural disasters isn’t unknown territory. It’s a shame the LTTE are terrorists. I am glad to live in a world where everything complicated has been turned black and white. (I should add it was nice to see a movie about Sri Lanka that didn’t mention ethnic groups and conflict. Not like this blurb about the movie — man I’m such a jerk.)