White Van Stories

White Van Stories

White Van Stories is a documentary feature on enforced disappearances in Sri Lanka following seven characters from the families of the disappeared.The documentary covers a gamut of provinces and ethnicities (Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim communities) in its coverage of the tragic unexplained disappearances of civilians in post-war Sri Lanka. It shines a light on the resilience and courage that many have adopted to find the disappeared as part of their continued fight for justice.

The film was largely shot undercover given the situation of military occupation in the Tamil areas and press censorship in Lanka. The key characters are followed amongst the hundreds of families of the disappeared who had participated in the historical protests held in Jaffna and Colombo on 27th and 30th of August 2013 (International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances) during UNHRC High Commissioner, Ms. Navi Pillay’s visit to Sri Lanka and hence the protests become centerpiece of the film. The camera encounters the military check posts on every entry into the villages where the characters inhabit. The lightning testimonials of the characters and their mission of the constant search of their beloved ones for years together without losing hope form the narrative arc. The human resilience and their belief systems are the main concern as perspective and the politics revels through those expressions. The history puts itself in the context with the oral - visual narratives of the experiences of violence by characters through the ethnic strife in the island for almost three decades.

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Written, Produced and Directed by:

Leena Manimekalai
Cinematography by:
Aravind Mak
Sound by:
Abhishek Bhattathiri
Music by:
Ajithkumar AS
Edit by:
Thangaraj Palanivel
70 minutes

Related Links:
Promo 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ClQdu81jc0s
Promo 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sT-Zd3Hu3T0
With John Snow: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlBnLMGglQ0
Reading for Amnesty International: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38runisTOC0&feature=youtu.be
Channel Four News Feature on White Van Stories: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-

  • Filmmaker in Focus, Aljazeera International Documentary Film Festival, 2014
  • Curtain Raiser, VIBGYOR, Thrissur, Kerala, 2014
  • Acquisitions, Canada, Cinema Politica, 2017