ASIA: Movie screening ‘Silence in the Courts’ in ALRC’s Geneva office

Two women from a farming village, about 100 kilometres from Colombo, were raped within one year by a judge presiding over cases which involved their husbands as accused parties. Seeking justice, the women approached the National Judicial Services Commission, the BAR Association, and the President of the country. The authorities, instead of helping the victims, converge to silence them.

An editor of a leading alternative newspaper publishes the story of one of the women. He continues to follow up the incident and publishes a series of articles exposing the judge’s misdeed. Despite repeated public exposure and complaints, the Magistrate is neither charged for the crime nor investigated.

The film portrays manifold ways in which institutions and authorities converge to prey upon the two women, and the women’s fight for justice. The film also exposes in detail deep-rooted corruption and malpractices within the criminal justice administration, that is common in Asia.

The film opens the gates to a spiralling staircase that will take you down into the dark and terrifying dungeons of power, and impunity that prevails in Asian countries, even within justice institutions. The film exposes how a simple act of complaining becomes a life-threatening endeavour and how police officers, lawyers, judges and politicians prey upon the poor, particularly vulnerable women in Asia.

The film was screened at several film festivals including Sakhalin International Film Festival, South Asian Himal Festival – Nepal, San Francisco South Asian Film Festival, Seattle South Asian Film Festival, Ottawa Human Rights Festival, Toronto Human Rights Film Festival and Melbourne Indian International Film Festival.

Prasanna Vithanage directed his first film, “Ice of Fire”, in 1992. His second feature, “Dark Night of the Soul” (1996), won the Jury’s Special Mention in the 1st Busan International Film Festival. “Walls Within” (1997) also won awards in Singapore and Amiens, while “Death on a Full Moon Day” (1997) gained the Grand Prix at the Amiens Film Festival but was initially banned by the Sri Lankan Government. His fifth film, “August Sun”, went on to win five international awards and was featured prominently in the world festival circuit including Cannes Film Festival. His sixth feature as writer/director, “Flowers of the Sky” (2008), premiered in Busan International Film Festival, while his seventh feature, “With You, Without You” (2012) won five international awards and was nominated for the Best Film at Asia Pacific Screen Awards. This was the first Sri Lankan film to be commercially released in India. He is also active as an international producer.

The director will be present for discussions after the screening.

Asian Human Rights Commission / Asian Legal Resource Centre
Right Livelihood Award Foundation

Document Type : Announcement
Document ID : ALRC-ANM-003-2017
Countries : Asia,