Sengadal, the Dead Sea
Sengadal, the Dead Sea is a feature fiction film which captures the fragments of simple lives beaten by three decade long ethnic war in Srilanka.It unfolds in a fisher village at Dhanushkodi,the southernmost tip of India where life and death co exist.
On the Indian mainland, across the waters, arrive the Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka, an unending stream of people dispossessed of their lands and Gods, to an uncertain future with ever receding hopes of return. Dhanushkodi, the Indo-Sri Lankan border town, is the crucible wherein History is brewing this concoction of defeated lives and exhausted dreams. Hope is a big word and resistance but a tired expression. Three decades of struggle for a nation is washed out, a race obliterated.
For, there is no one fighting their war back home now. Heroic images have turned to dust. The bunkers run with the wasted blood. Smoke rises from heaps of putrid flesh. Unwanted lives rot away in barbed wire human zoos.
The misery spills over to the Indian shore. Fishermen fishing in fear in ignorance of friendly and enemy waters get dumped as rebels, spies and smugglers and unceremoniously beaten to death or shot or maimed. Yet, each morning sees their boats launched once again to the sea as the sea is their motherland and the language of fish their mother tongue.
Manimekalai, the filmmaker, Munusamy, the fisherman, Rosemary, the social worker in Jesuit Christian Refugee Services, try hard to retain their sanity in this mad jumble. Their interactions with the dead or living refugees, their skirmishes with the Indian and Sri Lankan States, their personal lives overrun by external events - form the kernel of this narration. Soori, a half-wit Sri Lankan Tamil, who connects to the world through his radio, stands aloof in this bleak world of despair sending lightning jolts of truth into the dark recesses of History. No wonder, he vanishes into the blue and Manimekalai is forced by the State to return to the world of civil obedience. Munusamy is killed and Rosemary turns to her God, the same God who parted the Red Sea to save his flock in their flight from annihilation.
Sengadal the DeadSea had won the GFI Production grant for 2010.Sengadal was initially banned by the Regional Censor Board and after months of struggle, has recently won the legal battle and secured a clearance certificate for public exhibition.
- Official Selection, International Competition, 32nd Durban International Film Festival, August 2011
- Official Selection, First Film Competition, 35th World Montreal Film Fetsival, September 2011
- Official Selection, International Competition, Mumbai Film Fest, MAMI, October 2011
- NAWFF Award(Best Asian Woman Film award), Tokyo International Film Festival, November 2011
- Indian Panorama, Indian International Film Festival, Goa, December 2011
- World Cinema Official Selection, International Film Festival of Kerala, 2011
- Chithrabarathi Competition, Bangalore International Film Festival, 2011
- Official Korean Premeire, International Women Film Festival, South Korea, 2012
- Official Taiwan Premeire, International Women Film Festival, Taipei, 2012
- NAWFF Premieres at International Women Film Festivals at Israel and Beijing, 2012
- Pecheurs De Monde International Film Festival, Lorient, France, 2013
- Rare Picks at Hundred years of Indian Cinema Package, 2013 and more
With Sengadal, Leena Manimekalai pulls off quite the triple play. For one, she arrives with her feature length debut. Second, she succeeds at filling the dual role of director and actress in the picture. Third, and arguably the most interesting coup, is that she succeeds in creating a near-perfect blend of fiction and fact - Official Competition, World Montreal Film Festival, 2011
From Indian director Leena Manimekalai comes this engaging and haunting film "Sengadal the Dead Sea" that tells the stories of real victims on both sides of the conflict, highlighting the human rights violations which occurred and documenting the fishermen’s rage against the violent atrocities perpetrated by both the Sri Lankan and Indian governments. The resulting blend of fiction and documentary is a powerful protest against the injustices and ethnic cleansing which continues to take place around the world - World Premiere, Official Competition, Durban International Film Festival, 2011
Sengadal was highly commended as a bold and brave film that sensitively portrayed the plight of the fisher folk in Dhanushkodi, caught as they were in the interstices of a long and difficult ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka between the Sinhalese and Tamil people. With live footage and interviews, the film was appreciated as a stellar piece of work by a young and talented filmmaker - NAWFF Award(Best Asian Women Cinema) , Tokyo, 2011
Though fiction, the realistic style is alike a documentary film and the humanistic affection involved reminds us La Terra Trem Directed by Luchino VISCONTI, portraying a story in a fishing village in Sicily - Women Make Waves, Taiwan International Women Festival 2012
Through the gaze of the documentarist, who is the director’s own persona, the director questions the boundaries of the reality and representation, fiction and nonfiction in the unraveling of the shocking present. She also inquires about the way in which the camera should consider this violent reality- New Currents, Seoul International Film Festival 2012
The Dead Sea that gives voice to the most marginalized of the marginalized lot, is an extremely important film - IANS, 2011
Manimekalai has a clear purpose and captures the contours of the landscape, and the bleakness of its people, prcisely. For all its sombre quality, the film breaks into lyrical visuals - Mint, Wall Street Journal, 2011
The images, the film offers you are very moving and will never leave you - The Mercury, Durban, 2011
- படைப்பும் தடையும்
- Bringing into focus a forgotten crisis
- Films on Lankan war in stormy seas
- Sengadal in Calicut
- Sengadal at First FFSI National Film Festival
- சதா பிரதியின் ஜட்டியைக் கழட்டிப் பார்க்கும் அறிவுலகில் என்ன உரையாடுவது – பறை நேர்காணல்
- Times of India Article on Sengadal and Crowd Funding
- காடெல்லாம் நெருப்பு கடலெல்லாம் காவல்
- Of dead seas and Indian independent films – Bollywood
- இனத்துரோகி என்னும் பட்டத்தை ஏற்கத் தயார் – லீனா மணிமேகலை நேர்காணல்
- ‘A Conversation about Sengadal – Rediff.com’
- No holds barred – Interview in The Hindu
- திரைப்பட விழாக்களிலும் தணிக்கையை நுழைக்காதே!
- Banned film finds light at IFFI
- Sengadal wins the NAWFF Award at Tokyo
- Sengadal the Dead Sea / செங்கடல் – Journey
- WHAT THE SEA SAW – A film on Tamil Fishermen comes ashore (Cover page article in EYE (Indian Express))
- Kettle of Fish – a conversation about Sengadal with Nandhini for Time Out Mumbai
- ‘My protagonists are like shamans’ – TEHELKA Interview
- Sengadal Screening / Vikalp@Prithvi / Mumbai / Montages
- Sengadal the Dead Sea and the Conversations
- Spot light on Indian Independents
- எதற்கெடுத்தாலும் இந்திய இறையாண்மை – விகடன் நேர்காணல்.
- An Urgent Appeal from the Secretary, International Federation of Film Societies
- Petition to lift the ban for the film Sengadal the DeadSea
- லீனா மணிமேகலையின் இயக்கத்தில் ‘செங்கடல்’ திரைப்படம்
- It is time we censored the Censor Board
- Film on Lankan conflict rejected
- செங்கடல் – காலம் கட்டுரை
- இலங்கை அரசை விமர்சிப்பது குற்றமா?
- செங்கடல் கரை சேருமா?
- கற்பனை துளி கூட இல்லை! செங்கடல் – தணிக்கை – சர்ச்சை
- Film on Fishermen’s lives hits Censor wall
- Global Film Initiative recognizes Sengadal the Dead Sea with its Grant Award
- Of untold tales and unheard voices, Sunday Express, I – Witness, 26.09.10. Ranjitha Gunasekaran
- Vagina Tamilogues