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Last updated: 22 September, 2005 - Published 16:15 GMT
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FMM slams threats to filmmakers
Asoka Handagama
FMM says newspaper articles were a result of a organised campaign
Media watchdog Free Media Movement (FMM) expressed concern on attempts to portray certain filmmakers as 'new terrorists.'

The FMM says it is disturbed by the recent remarks on internationally acclaimed film directors Asoka Handagama, Prasanna Vithanage, Sudath Mahadivulwewa and Vimukthi Jayasundara.

Recent newspaper articles written by the Security Service officers and political leaders have criticized the work of four directors on the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka as propaganda for separatist Tamil Tigers.

Freedom of expression

FMM said : "The FMM wishes to underscore the importance of upholding the cultural rights and the freedom of expression of artistes and filmmakers in Sri Lanka. Artistic interpretation is an inviolable right of all artistes and media personnel and is linked to the freedom of expression."

The watchdog said the Cannes award winning director Vimukthi Jayasundara is now facing threats to leave Sri Lanka.

Vimuthi Jayasundara
FMM says Jayasundara is now facing threats to leave Sri Lanka

Refering to a meeting held further to the comments by the military officials,"where the film makers were asked whether they were willing to make films for military propaganda, the filmmakers were told that if war breaks out again they will have to face the repercussions".

A statement issued by FMM spokesperson Sunanada Deshapriya called for all parties to respect freedom of expression including the right to creative expression and media by artistes and filmmakers.

'Unofficial censorship'

"We urge the government and the security forces to uphold these rights," the statement added.

The remarks in the press were triggered by the recent release of Sudath Mahadivulweva's "Sudu Kalu saha Alu" and Vimukthi Jayasundera's "Sulange Enu Pinisa".

 Artistic interpretation is an inviolable right of all artistes and media personnel and is linked to the freedom of expression

Vimukthi Jayasundera petitioned to courts on Thursday, demanding an order to stop his film being taken out of distribution in five cinemas in the government-owned Film Corporation circuit.

He told the BBC, the films are taken out as a way of "unofficial censorship".

The Corporation claims the cinemas were poor in box office returns during the last week.

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