Burning Memories

Burning MemoriesRated: n/a
Director: Sritharan Someetharan
Length: 45 min

Saturday: 2:30pm – Hendricks Art Center 1

Sunday: 2:30pm – Bagels & More


Part 1 of Double Feature Goddesses
Part 2 of Double Feature – Burning Memories (NOTE: tickets for this double feature sold on Goddesses page)

One of the most traumatic events of the early stages of the civil war in Sri Lanka that has been raging for more than 25 years is the burning of Jaffna Public Library, which housed more than 97,000 books and irreplaceable palm leaf manuscripts, the wanton burning of the most important library of the Tamils was a major loss to the cultural heritage.

This film attempts to document the war-scarred life of the library and the socio-political violence connected with it. The Jaffna Public Library was the major repository of literary source materials of the Tamil people and Tamil language. By 1981, it had over 97,000 books and rare, old manuscripts and papers. It was a place of historic and symbolic importance to the local minority Sri Lankan Tamil people. In 1981, Sinhalese policemen and government sponsored thugs set fire to the Jaffna Public Library, thus destroying it completely.

The film narrates the entire history of the library, since its inception in 1933, by juxtaposing voiceover and interviews of the former employees of the library. Mr Sabaratnam, who had been the member of the library since 1948. The archival video footage (1981) of the interview of Mr Rasa Viswanathan, Mayor of Jaffna at the time, recollects the entire incident including the involvement of armed constabulary in the devastation.

This documentary film focuses on the cultural tragedy during the ethnic strife in Sri Lanka.