International Film Festival Bosnia Herzegovina Looks Around (IFFBHLA)

Bosnia and Herzegovina
North Macedonia




For Films reflecting the problems and challenges of regions marked by multi-nationality, multi-ethnicity, multi-religiosity.

Demons in Paradise
Jude Ratman
France / 2017 / 1:34:00

Sri Lanka 1983, Jude Ratman is five years old. On a red train, he flees the massacre of the Tamils instigated by the Pro-Sinhalese majoritarian government. Now a filmmaker, he takes the same train from South to North. As he advances, the traces of the violence of the 26-year-old war and the one which turned the Tamil's fight for freedom into a self-destructive terrorism pass before his eyes. Reminiscing the hidden souvenirs of fighters and Tamil Tigers, he unveils the repressed memories of his compatriots, opening the door to a new era and making peace possible again.



Recognizing the uncompromising authenticity of revisiting one’s abandoned home and the painful recollections of war, the Jury distinguishes the Sri Lankan based documentary “Demons in Paradise” by first-time director Jude Ratnam with the Tolerance Award. The protagonist of the documentary, now a filmmaker, returns to his home in Sri Lanka after more than 30 years, taking the same trainline which he used to escape the county in 1983. He records his journey back, inviting the viewers to accompany him alongside in facing the consequences of a long war.

The documentary is a raw journey through the geographical places visited by the protagonist, where the traces of war are still visible in the abandoned houses and forgotten neighborhoods. But also, it is a journey through the collective memory of all the characters that he meets along the way. Each of them, by sharing their story and their perspective to what was happening during the war, contributes a unique piece to the puzzle of post-war living.

In the exposition, at the beginning of the journey home, the protagonist suggests that even when the war is over, the fear continues to haunt those who experienced it. While accepting his personal inability to escape the trauma, in the closing sequence, using direct narration as in the exposition, the protagonist suggests that he is hopeful that unlike him, his son will grow up without this fear. Thus, the film concludes on a carefully optimistic note that maybe peace is possible for the new generation which is not tainted by the catastrophe of war.


It is indeed an honor to receive this award from the 1st International Film Festival Bosnia and Herzegovina Looks Around - Paris. It is still more humbling to see the film continue to affect people from around the globe and especially the Balken states where many have endured unprecedent intolerance and violence