FOCUS: Dheepan director Jacques Audiard (second from left) with cast members (from left) Kalieaswari Srinivasan, Claudine Vinasithamby and Antonythasan Jesuthasan
Sri Lanka’s government on Monday (25) hailed the awarding of Cannes’ top prize to a film highlighting the plight of the Tamil minority during the island’s civil war, saying authorities were working to redress past injustices.
Dheepan, a French movie about a former Sri Lankan soldier’s struggles in a French ghetto after fleeing the separatist war, captured the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or prize last Sunday (24).
Sri Lankan government spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said the award could draw international attention to the new administration’s efforts at reconcilation with Tamils following the war that ended in 2009.
“The movie talks about a situation (in Sri Lanka) decades ago. It is not the current picture. It is very different now,” Senaratne, who is also the health minister, said. “We have a new government which is serious about reconciliation, ensuring justice and addressing the problems of the minorities.”
Senaratne said the movie touched on the use of child soldiers during the war by Tamil Tiger rebels who were known for their suicide bombings.
“I am glad it has come to light,” Senaratne said. “With the publicity from this movie, I expect more interest in our reconciliation efforts.”
The film’s lead actor, Anthonythasan Jesuthasan, a former Tamil Tiger child soldier who escaped the fighting and secured asylum in France over two decades ago, has said his character was about “50 per cent” autobiographical.