Seeping through the silence
Justice, as a sacrosanct ideal that is meant to serve humanity in a
world rigged with imperfections can be seen in the maxim 'Fiat justitia
ruat cælum' which translates to -"Let justice be done though the heavens
fall." Renowned Sri Lankan filmmaker Prasanna Vithanage's documentary
film "Silence in the Courts" (Usaaviya Nihandayi) is now gaining its
space to screen a narrative of an incident that was fraught with
controversy. The film is on the alleged sexual abuse of a woman by a
judicial officer and was subjected to court orders restraining its
screening as it was said to be prejudicial to the reputation of a
magistrate who asserted that the allegation was completely baseless.
"Silence in the Courts" has been produced by H. D. Premasiri and
Prasanna Vithanage as a joint venture and was screened at several film
festivals including Sakhalin International Film Festival.
The film carries as its tagline the crux of what the filmmaker
himself has borne what he seems to treat as his civic duty as an artist.
The film's tagline reads -'Two women were raped by a judge.
After a journalist fails in his struggle to deliver justice to them,
a filmmaker embarks on a quest to unearth the cause for that injustice'.
What is interesting to note is that in the present socio-political
climate as the judiciary seems to be brought under scrutiny from various
quarters (both domestically and from overseas) and the 'Fourth Estate'
(the media) is also being widely discussed for its conduct pertaining to
ethical standards, a film as this is bound to be the subject of a lot of
debate and contention.
As a filmmaker Vithanage's attempt to deliver a voice for justice
comes through a form of mass media. And it directs its accusatorial
finger towards the institution that is tasked with delivering justice.
The late U.S black civil rights leader 'Malcolm X' said "The media's the
most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent
guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that's power. Because they
control the minds of the masses."
At the time of writing this article 'Silence in the Courts' was on
the eve of its Sri Lankan debut to the public. Once it enters the public
discourse one wonders if Vithanage's work will be treated as a narrative
of reportage that seeks to uncover facts while remaining unbiased, or if
it will as a work disseminated through mass media, touch on what Malcolm
X says; and appear to take on the task of being 'Judge, Jury and
Time, will soon tell.