Sri Lanka tsunami film wins recognition at Cannes

Sri Lanka's state minister of defence Ruwan Wijewardene (L) takes part in a press conference in Colombo on April 24, 2019. - A Sri Lankan security dragnet hunting those responsible for horrifying bombings that claimed more than 350 lives has scooped up a further 18 suspects, police said April 24, as pressure mounted on politicians to explain why no one acted on intelligence warnings. (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)

CANNES, France, May 17, 2008 (AFP) – A small flick went from refugee camp to red carpet Friday as Sean Penn, backed by rock star Bono and film-maker Michael Moore, brought an Australian aid worker’s tsunami film to the Cannes fest. Thompson, who had basic first aid training, took care of the wounded as the team helped stunned survivors to begin clearing the chaos. “People were lethargic to clean up, doing a little bit kept people motivated,” one of them said.

Week by week they dug toilets, collected corpses, played with children, built shelters, found food, got the school going, and tried to restore morale.

By the third week, the volunteers numbered 10 as other westerners signed on. By week seven they were 40, including voluntary doctors.

The group was never financed, getting help from time to time from organised aid associations, who donated medicine or food, or from passers-by who left what cash they could.

“It was giving hope and reintroducing normalcy”, said one volunteer in the film.

By the time the group left after several months, 520 homes had been rebuilt with no organised outside financial help.

Penn saw the film on the behest of Czech model Petra Nemcova, who was in Thailand on holidays when