SPOTLIGHT ON SRI LANKAN FILMMAKER PRASANNA VITHANAGE
Born in 1962, Prasanna Vithanage’s opus of five previous films has made him one of Sri Lanka ‘s leading filmmakers with a worldwide critical and popular reputation. He began his career in the 1980’s as a theatre director. He translated into Sinhala and directed Bernard Shaw’s Arms and the Man in 1986 and Dario Fo’s Raspberries and Trumpets in 1991, before setting out as a filmmaker in 1992. He returned to his theatrical roots in 2006 when he wrote, directed and produced two hugely popular Sinhala one act plays Horu Samaga Heluwen which ran to nearly 150 performances islandwide. Vithanage also produced Uberto Pasolini’s Machan, the international co-production, which debuted at the Venice International Film Festival in Summer 2008.
Mr. Vithanage will be present at the festival.
DEATH ON A FULL MOON DAY (Pura Handa Kaluwara)
Running time: 74 mins Starring: Joe Abeywickrama, Priyanka Samaraweera, Linton Semage
Considered to be a modern day classic of Sinhalese Cinema, The film deals with the brutal war between the Sri Lankan state and the Tamils living in the North of the Island. When Vannihamy (Joe Abeywickrama) is presented by the army with the remains of his son, the the old man refuses to sign the compensation papers, and insists that his son is still alive. Influenced by Satyajit Ray, this impassioned and impartial neo-realist film uses a spare style and little music, focusing instead on the excellent performances, and the pathos emanating from Vithanage’s script.
The Sinhalese government and military, fearing the film would hamper the army’s recruitment of rural youth and focus public attention on social and political problems in Sri Lanka, suspended its screening indefinitely. Vithanage appealed to the courts. The Sri Lanka Supreme Court eventually directed the government to lift the ban and awarded the director compensation and damages.
Pura Handa Kaluwara has won numerous awards, including the Grand Prix Golden Unicorn for Best Feature Film at the Amiens International Film Festival, the International Film Critics Federation Award at the Fribourg (Switzerland) International Film Festival, and the Silver Screen Award for Best Asian Film at the Singapore International Film Festival in 1999.
FLOWERS OF THE SKY (Akasa Kusum)
Running time:90 minutes
Sri Lanka, 2008
Cast: Dilhani Ekanayake, Kaushalaya Fernando, Malini Fonseka, Nimmi Harasgama
A mother’s search for a daughter she has never met.
Sandhya Rani (Malini Fonseka), an ageing film star, was once the darling of the silver screen. Having lost fame and fortune in a changing world, she now lives quietly in obscurity. She ekes out a living by renting out a room in her home to the film and television stars of today to satisfy their illicit sexual desires. The popular young film star, Shalika (Dilhani Ekanayake), uses this room to carry on an affair with a young actor. When Shalika’s infidelity is unmasked by her husband, the scandal and its publicity forces Rani into the limelight again. In the spotlight once again, Rani is suddenly forced to come to terms with a dark secret of her past – a secret she thought she had buried forever. As she confronts the demons of her past, she journeys in search of a truth she abandoned long ago.
Silver Peacock Award (Best Actress), Indian 39th International Film Festival (2008)
Jury Special Mention At Vesoul Asian Film Festival (2009)
Best Asian Film (Netpac) Award – Granada Cines
Del Sur Film Festival