Review: No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka

No Fire Zone

No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka is a documentary focusing on the final months of the civil war in Sri Lanka. Beginning in early 2009, the Sri Lankan government pushed into Tamil lands in northern Sri Lanka, battling the Tamil Tigers as the end of a 26 year long war was drawing to a close. Using footage captured inside of the war zone, covering a 138 day period, viewers witness first hand the truly horrifying war crimes perpetrated by the Sri Lankan government, and the incredible amount of lies created to keep the international community from interfering with the war.

This is an incredibly difficult film to review. Many of us live in a rather isolated world. We’re aware of the terrible situations that occur on a daily basis in the world around us, but feel removed from it. No Fire Zone tears those boundaries down as viewers are thrust directly into the Sri Lankan civil war, with frequently graphic results. This is not a pleasant film to watch. Extremely graphic footage fills much of the running time of the film, and listening to stories of innocent people caught in the middle of the fighting will break your heart, but it’s only through watching, that the message can be heard.

The film is infuriating, depressing, and disgusting. As we witness the war between the Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan army, the disturbing nature of what the government allowed becomes all too clear. The state controlled media reports that the army is rescuing hostages, while in reality, the U.N. believes that over 78% of civilian deaths occur within government created ‘no fire zones’. They’re not rescuing hostages, they’re slaughtering tens of thousands of innocent people.

The Tamil Tigers aren’t much better, eventually shooting anybody who tries to escape into the ever growing government-controlled land, but it’s the way the government goes about things that leaves them looking so much worse. They seem to intentionally attack areas that are filled with innocent civilians, including bombing over 60 buildings set up as hospitals. They announce certain land to be ‘no fire zones’ and within days, begin attacking those very areas. While all this is happening, they’re building a wall of lies to prevent any outside forces from interfering. This includes the evacuation of U.N. forces within the war zone. What happens is horrifying, but it’s what the government does in the aftermath that is the truly disturbing part of the film.

Is No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka Opening Weekend Worthy?

Absolutely. We cannot allow things like this to happen in our world, and this film is the best way of spreading that message. It is incredibly graphic, and very hard to watch, but that’s the best way to really get people to act. It will make you appreciate everything that you have, encourage you to act towards change, and will hopefully send a message to the world that we will not accept something like this to ever happen again.

No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka opens Friday, June 28, 2013 at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. Check their website for details.

No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka Trailer


Raised on a healthy diet of Star Wars and every horror film on a video store shelf, Will has been watching movies since before he was able to talk. Inspired by an ever growing passion for film, and the occasional mind control experiment, Will began writing film review on his personal blog, The Film Reel. When the mind control experiments actually worked, he was able to secure a position with Toronto Film Scene. He now waits patiently in the TFS basement for October to come every year, when his love for horror films finally pays off.

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