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.