Children of Tsunami go to Washington DC


I was at the World Bank headquarters in Washington DC on Friday, 16 March 2007, introducing our documentary film, Children of Tsunami: The Journey Continues.

This was part of the 15th Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital, held at multiple venues showcasing a total of 115 films from all over the world. Good friends at the World Bank had recommended and sponsored the screening of our film.

Despite rains lashing the US capital and in the freezing cold, close to 80 people turned up to see the film, which was very encouraging. The compact auditorium was virtually full, and practically everyone stayed for the entire one and a half hour event. At the end, many of them made supportive remarks or asked good questions. It was very gratifying to present our work to such an appreciative audience.

Nalaka Gunawardene introducing Children of Tsunami

Introducing the film, I said:

“Children of Tsunami is different from most other films in this festival. It’s not an environment film, nor is it a wildlife film. Yet it’s all about wild…life!

This film is about the aftermath of a mega-disaster, when life itself went wild, shattering the futures of hundreds of thousands of people across South and
Southeast Asia.

The Asian Tsunami of December 2004 triggered one of the biggest humanitarian relief efforts in history. It also inspired an unprecedented volume of donations and aid to the affected countries and people.

Our film begins when the media frenzy had begun to die down. We take over after most news cameras left the scene.

Indeed, Children of Tsunami started out in some anger and frustration. We were deeply concerned that most news media coverage focused on death and destruction, or doom and gloom. For sure, it was a large scale tragedy, but there were stories of courage and resilience, which we felt didn’t get the coverage they deserved.

In most post-tsunami media coverage, the affected people were portrayed as ‘victims’ rather than survivors. They were also reduced to nameless, faceless statistics. Whole countries or regions were reduced to simple blips on a map.

And then, after a few days and weeks of saturation coverage, the news media started to move on to other breaking stories. That’s the nature of our media.

But we who live and work in Asia knew the story was far from over. We knew the recovery stories would unfold for months and years to come. We wanted to keep these stories alive. We were keen to stay and move with the stories.

So in mid January 2005, we started the Children of Tsunami media project….”

Here’s the text of my full remarks:

Introducing Children of Tsunami at DC Environmental Film Festival, 16 March 2007

See synopsis at the film festival website

Visit Children of Tsunami website where you can watch this film – and many other related films – online