No Fire Zone

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No Fire Zone : The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka
NFZ Facebook Profile.jpg
No Fire Zone Facebook Profile Picture
Directed byCallum Macrae
Narrated byRufus Sewell
Composer(s)Wayne Roberts
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Executive producer(s)Chris Shaw, Dorothy Byrne, Sandra Whipam,
Producer(s)Zoe Sale
Production location(s)Sri Lanka
United Kingdom
Editor(s)Michael Nollet
Running time49 Minutes
Original networkChannel 4
Preceded bySri Lanka's Killing Fields: War Crimes Unpunished
External links
No Fire Zone Website
Production website

No Fire Zone: In the Killing Fields of Sri Lanka is an investigative documentary about the final weeks of the Sri Lankan Civil War. The documentary covers the period from September 2008 until the end of the war in 2009 in which thousands of Tamil people were killed by shelling and extrajudicial executions by the Sri Lankan Army including Balachandran Prabhakaran, the 12-year-old son of the slain Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Chief Velupillai Prabhakaran.[1] The Sri Lankan army has denied the allegations in the documentary. However, on 21 October 2015 the BBC reported that Maxwell Paranagama, a government-appointed Sri Lankan judge, says allegations the army committed war crimes during the long conflict with Tamil Tiger rebels are "credible". He went on to say there was evidence to suggest that footage obtained by the Channel 4 documentary No Fire Zone - showing prisoners naked, blindfolded, with arms tied and shot dead by soldiers - was genuine.[2][3][4][5][6]


This feature documentary is the product of a three-year investigation and tells the story of the final awful months of the 26-year-long Sri Lankan civil war: This sometimes harrowing story is told by the people who lived through the war - and through some of the most dramatic and disturbing video evidence ever seen. This footage - direct evidence of war crimes, summary execution, torture and sexual violence - was recorded by both the victims and perpetrators on mobile phones and small cameras during the final 138 days of hell which form the central narrative of the film.

No Fire Zone is directed by the Nobel Peace Prize nominee Callum Macrae,[7] a Peabody[8] and Colombia Dupont Broadcast Journalism Award winner[9] and Greirson[10] and BAFTA nominee. It has already won many awards and is a nominee for an International Emmy Award 2014.[11]

No Fire Zone has been described as something of an international phenomenon.[12] Not just an agenda setting investigation, but a cinematic tour de force – a stunning and disturbing film in its own right. It was described as "beautifully crafted and heart wrenching” by the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting in Washington,[13] "utterly convincing" by the Globe and Mail in Toronto - and in the UK, Empire noted: "It is vitally important that this feature reaches the widest possible audience”. One critic in Australia described it as “the most devastating film I have seen”, whilst the London Film Review says "No Fire Zone shocks on every level. It shocks, it educates, and it convinces"[14]

It has been widely praised by personalities as disparate as the rapper M.I.A[15] and the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, who said: ”No Fire Zone is one of the most chilling documentaries I’ve watched…[16]


In March 2013, the documentary was screened by its director, Callum Macrae, at the 22nd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.[17]

The film was not released in theatres in India as Central Board of Film Certification did not approved it. In response to this attempt at censorship No fire Zone was released online for free in India and Malaysia as well as Sri Lanka and Nepal.[18]

In November 2014 the Musician M.I.A described No Fire Zone as “the only film that gives me faith in journalism. It's not only the most important account of what happened to the Tamils, it's actually become part of the fabric of their history."[19]

Awards and Festival Screenings[edit]

Festival des Libertes 2013 - Winner of FIDH Best Film Award.[20]
CPH:DOX Copenhagen 2013 - FACT Award Jury Special Mention[21]
Nuremberg Film Festival 2013 - Winner of Audience Award[22]
Film South Asia 2013 - Special Jury Mention.[23]
WatchDocs Poland 2014 - Winner of Audience Award[24]
One World Film Festival Prague 2014 - Winner Václav Havel Jury Special Mention[25]
Docudays UA - Kiev 2014 - Winner of Jury Special Mention.[26]
Festival internacional de Cine y Video de Derochos Humanos Buenos Aires 2013 - Winner Jury Special Mention.
Oslo International film festival 2013.
Movies That Matter 2013[27]
FIFDH Geneva 2013[28]
Tricontinental Human Right Film Festival 2013.[29]
Freedom Film Festival Malaysia 2013[30]
Addis International film Festival 2013.
Sheffield Documentary Festival 2013[31]
No Fire Zone (TV version) was nominated for Best Documentary at the 2014 International Emmy Awards[32] and was awarded the Britdoc Impact Award [33] as well as being shortlisted for a Grierson award [34]


Despite the painstaking checking and independent verification of the footage contained within the film,[35][36] the Sri Lankan government continue to maintain that the footage contained within the film is faked.[37] However, as more and more evidence continues to emerge this position becomes ever more untenable.

In March 2014 the United Nations Commission on Human Rights voted to establish an independent international inquiry[38] into the events covered in the film and subsequent and ongoing human rights abuses in Sri Lanka. Despite the international mandate for this inquiry the government of Sri Lanka has refused to cooperate [39] and has denied the UNCHR investigators entry to Sri Lanka.[40]

The Government of Sri Lanka have also been active in trying to prevent the film being seen. Just prior to No Fire Zone being screened at the Film south Asia festival in Nepal, the Nepalese government were pressurised by the Government of Sri Lanka into trying to have the advertised screening stopped.[41] The organisers of the festival bravely ignored the ban and held two screenings rather than the single advertised screening.

Again in Malaysia, despite the film having already been screened at the Malaysian parliament, a private human rights organisation screening of the film in Kuala Lumpur was raided and the organisers arrested.[42]

Just prior to the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting held in Colombo in November 2013, a book entitled Corrupted Journalism[43] appeared. This book is published and written by a mysterious group called "Engage Sri Lanka[44]" but is widely believed to be a product of the Sri Lankan government and is widely believed to be an attempt to propagate the Sri Lankan government line that the allegations made in the film and the previous two documentaries shown on UK television by Channel 4 are false. This book was widely distributed and was even included in the delegate pack at the conference[45] until removed at the insistence of the Commonwealth secretariat. Links to the publication also appeared on the Home pages of Sri Lankan Embassy websites around the World.

In response to the allegations made within this book Channel 4 published a detailed rebuttal written by the film's director Callum Macrae entitled The Uncorrupted Truth [46]

Updated Versions[edit]

In November 2014 the producers released an updated version of the film containing new evidence, including footage showing the capture, alive, of the LTTE TV presenter Isaipriya. Previously the Sri Lankan government had claimed she had died in battle.[47] This update also included an interview with one of the Tamil doctors who had been trapped in the No Fire Zone. During the war the doctors told the world of the terrible conditions in the no Fire Zone, but after the war they were arrested and he held by the Sri Lankan Criminal Investigation Department. While in captivity they were forced to appear at a stage managed government press conference and deny everything they said from the war zone. In this interview - a longer version of which appeared on Channel 4 news in the UK - the most senior of the doctors revealed that he and the other doctors had been forced by Sri Lankan military intelligence to change their story - and confirmed that what they had said from the war zone was indeed accurate.[48]

In January 2015 it was announced that the producers were working on a Sinhala language version of the film to be released later that month.[49] Also in January 2015, following the defeat of President Rajapaksa in Sri Lanka’s presidential election, the film was re-released with a further update in time for a US campus tour organized by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting starting in February 2015.[50]


  1. ^ Joseph, Manu. "Revisiting the Horror in Sri Lanka." The New York Times. 3 March 2013
  2. ^ "Sri Lanka judge says war crimes claims are 'credible'". Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  3. ^ "No Fire Zone: In the Killing Fields of Sri Lanka". Retrieved 19 February 2013.
  4. ^ "Handed a snack, and then executed: the last hours of the 12-year-old son of a Tamil Tiger". The Independent. 18 February 2013. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
  5. ^ "Channel 4 releases documentary evidence on SL war crime". 19 February 2013. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
  6. ^ "This is proof, beyond reasonable doubt, of the execution of a child – not a battlefield death". The Independent. 18 February 2013. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
  7. ^ "ITN Team Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize". Broadcast Now. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  8. ^ "Peabody Award for Sri Lanka's Killing Fields". Channel 4. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  9. ^ "2012 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award winners announced". Columbia Journalism school. Archived from the original on 14 October 2012. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  10. ^ "Grierson Awards Shortlist 2013". The Grierson Trust. Archived from the original on 10 December 2014. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  11. ^ "International Emmy Award Nominees 2014". International Emmy Awards. Archived from the original on 25 December 2011. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  12. ^ "Britdoc Impact Awards 2014" (PDF). Britdoc Impact Awards. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  13. ^ "No Fire Zone" Screens at Pulitzer Center Week-Long Film Festival". Pulitzer centre on crisis reporting. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  14. ^ "Online Now: No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka". The London Film review. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  15. ^ "M.I.A Website". M.I.A Official site. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  16. ^ "David Cameron warns of Sri Lanka 'questions'.Many of the images are truly shocking. This documentary raises very serious questions that the Sri Lankan government must answer about what it did to protect innocent civilians… Questions that need answers if Sri Lanka is to build the truly peaceful and inclusive future its people deserve". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  17. ^ "Exposed in Geneva: Doublespeak of Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and FIFDH". Asian Times. 2 February 2013.
  18. ^ Bhaskaran, Gautaman (23 February 2014). "Film on Sri Lankan war banned in India". Chennai: Hindustan Times. Archived from the original on 23 February 2014. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  19. ^ Arulpragasam, Maya. "Musician MIA on No Fire Zone". London: BritDoc Impact Award.
  20. ^ "FIDH@Festival Des Libertes 2013". FIDH@Festival des Libertés 2013. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  21. ^ "13 Films compete for FACT award". CPH:Docs Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  22. ^ "The NIHRFF Audience Award went to No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka". Nuremberg International Human Rights Film Festival 2013. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  23. ^ "No Fire Zone wins special mention". Film south Asia. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  24. ^ "13th Watchdocs Audience Award". Watchdocs International film Festival. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  25. ^ "And the winner is..." One World Film Festival. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  26. ^ "Winners". Docudays UA. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  27. ^ "Movies that Matter 2013". Movies that Matter. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  28. ^ "FIDH 2013 Geneva". FIDH. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  29. ^ "Tricontinents Film Festival 2013". Tricontinents Film Festival. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  30. ^ "Freedom Film Fest 2013". Freedom Film Fest Malaysia. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  31. ^ "Sheffield Documentary Film Festival 2013". Sheffield Documentary Film Festival. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  32. ^ "International Emmys Nominees 2014". International Academy of Film and Television Sciences. Archived from the original on 25 December 2011. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  33. ^ "Britdoc Impact Award Winners 2014". Britdoc. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  34. ^ "Grierson Awards Shortlist 2013". The Grierson Trust. Archived from the original on 10 December 2014. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  35. ^ "The Uncorrupted Truth Page 40" (PDF). Channel 4. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  36. ^ "Interview by Ceylon Today with No Fire Zone director Callum Macrae". Ceylon Today. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  37. ^ "Sri Lanka disputes truth of documentary on alleged war crimes by its soldiers". The National. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  38. ^ "U.N. Approves Investigation of Civil War in Sri Lanka". New York Times. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  39. ^ "UN rights chief condemns 'disinformation campaign' to discredit Sri Lanka probe". UN News Centre. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  40. ^ "Sri Lanka president adamant on barring U.N. war crimes investigators". Reuters. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  41. ^ "Film Southasia kicks off amid pressure to ban 3 Lanka films". Kathmandu Post. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  42. ^ "Malaysian Police Raid Screening of No Fire Zone". Pulitzer Centre on Crisis Reporting. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  43. ^ "Corrupted Journalism and Channel 4" (PDF). Corrupted Journalism. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  44. ^ "Engage Sri Lanka". Engage Sri Lanka. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  45. ^ "Sri Lanka, 'Corrupted journalism' and Channel 4 News". Channel 4. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  46. ^ "The Uncorrupted Truth" (PDF). Channel 4. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  47. ^ "Fate of Tamil Propagandist: New Sri Lanka evidence". Channel 4. Retrieved Apr 14, 2015.
  48. ^ "'I cried every day': inside Sri Lanka's 'No Fire Zones'". Channel 4. Retrieved Apr 14, 2015.
  49. ^ "Getting the Truth Out: Creating a Sinhala version of 'Sri Lanka's Killing Fields'". Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka. Retrieved Apr 14, 2015.
  50. ^ "Callum Macrae US Tour: No Fire Zone". Pulitzer Center. Retrieved Apr 14, 2015.

External links[edit]