13th WATCH DOCS Audience Award


This year’s WATCH DOCS audience award went to a British documentary No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka by Callum Macrae.

The top five list of the most popular movies of the festival includes also: Inequality for All by Jacob Kornbluth, Banaz: A Love Story by Deeyah Khan, Fire in the Blood by Dylan Mohan Gray, and God Loves Uganda by Roger Ross Williams. The viewers who voted in the audience poll will take part in a lottery with books funded by Polish Scientific Publishers PWN and PWN Foundation.

WATCH DOCS programming director Konrad Wirkowski about No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka:

No Fire Zone is not a film for the faint of heart. Few people in our country remember that, for almost 30 years, Sri Lanka was the scene of an ethnic conflict between the forces of the Sinhalese government and the Tamil minority, represented by the notorious armed faction known as the Tamil Tigers, who created their own pseudo-state on the territory which they controlled. A ceasefire lasted for few years up until 2009, when the Sri Lankan authorities managed to convince the international community that their struggle with the Tamils should be recognized as a part of the global war on terror. The Tamils’ days of autonomy were numbered. In preparation for an offensive the government removed all foreign journalists from the region (local journalists were threatened, and the defiant ones disappeared without a trace). Having rid the area of any potential observers the army launched its offensive. The only "Western" witnesses to what happened next were two UN workers who refused to leave, with their testimony becoming part of the film. No Fire Zone focuses on the final stages of the conflict. Using both images shot by the Tamils and videos recorded by government soldiers, the film documents the shocking scale of the genocide committed by the army: massacres of the civilian, the bombing of clearly marked hospitals, and the systematic shelling of areas that had officially been declared as protected. The army’s brutality is reminiscent of the worst genocide cases. No one has ever been punished for war crimes, and the general in charge of the offensive currently enjoys immunity as... Sri Lanka’s representative to the UN. It is rare that we have an opportunity to see such drastic evidence of genocide in a film. What is really frightening is that this was quietly accepted by the international community.