My Daughter the Terrorist

A film by Beate Arnestad, Produced by Morten Daae

Norway/Sri Lanka | 2007 | 58 minutes | Color | DVD | Tamil | Subtitled | Order No. 09934


This fascinating documentary is an exceedingly rare, inside look at an organization that most of the world has blacklisted as a terrorist group. Made by the first foreign film crew to be given access to the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) of Sri Lanka, the film offers important insights into the recently re-ignited conflict in Sri Lanka.

Twenty-four-year-olds Dharsika and Puhalchudar have been living and fighting side-by-side for seven years as part of LTTE’s elite force, the Black Tigers. Their story is told through cinema verité footage, newsreel footage, and interviews with the women and Dharsika’s mother. The women describe heartbreaking traumas they both experienced at the hands of the Sri Lankan army, which led them to join the guerrilla forces. As they discuss their readiness to become suicide bombers and their abiding loyalty to the unnamed “Leader” – who they are sure would never harm civilians – grisly images of past LTTE suicide bombings provide somber counterpoints. Their curiously flat affects raise the possibility that they have been brainwashed. This even-handed documentary sheds light on the reasons that the Tamil Tigers continue their bloody struggle for independence while questioning their tactics.


"Provides a rich insight into the women's ideology, reasoning, and sometimes plain, even charming, naiveté. The strength of the film’s aesthetic is in its adherence to the mental and psychological point of view of these young women.”

Dorit Naaman Film Studies, Queens University

“A timely look at life inside a guerrilla organization, and the way the world appears to a terrorist.”

DOCNZ Int’l Documentary Film Festival

"Takes political documentary filmmaking a step further."

Susan Gerhard SF360

"Recommended, 3 Stars. A complex and disturbing film that provides significant insights into a tragic and seemingly endless civil war."

Video Librarian


  • Message to Man Int’l FF,Best Feature-Length Doc
  • DOCNZ Int’l Doc FF,Special Mention
  • Full Frame Film Doc FF
  • Engendered Transnational Arts & Human Rights Film Festival
  • MoMA Doc Fortnight
  • African American Women FF
  • United Nations Association FF
  • NJ South Asian Cine Fest
  • Taasveer FF
  • Seattle South Asian FF
  • Calgary Int'l FF
  • Bellingham Human Rights FF
  • The Norwegian Short & Doc Festival
  • Tiburon Int'l FF
  • South by Southwest FF
  • WATCH DOCS, Human Rights in Film IFF, Warsaw
  • Festival dei Popoli, Italy
  • Ukrainian Int'l FF
  • Taiwan Int'l Ethnographic FF
  • MadCat Woman FF, San Francisco
  • Int'l Doc Encounter, Bogota
  • Pärnu Int'l FF


Beate Arnestad

Beate Arnestad (b. 1957) has more than twenty years of experience working at the Norwegian Broadcasting Company (NRK), where she has produced and directed entertainment and cultural programs. She made her debut as a documentary filmmaker with WHERE THE WAVES SING in 2002, tracing the life of a former painter and governor in the forgotten Danish-Norwegian colony Tranquebar in India. While living in Sri Lanka from 2003 to 2006, she started exploring the concept of women in war, which turned into her award-winning second documentary MY DAUGHTER THE TERRORIST (2007). In 2010 she premiered her third full documentary, TELLING TRUTHS IN ARUSHA, focusing on various accounts of the Rwanda genocide during the trial of Father Hormisdas, and the Norwegian judge of the tribunals’ interpretations of these varying accounts. Arnestad’s next project was born out of her growing interest in Sri Lanka’s political struggles. SILENCED VOICES, released in 2012, tells the story of the civil war in Sri Lanka based on the stories of journalists living in exile. (8/14)


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