Dharmasena Pathiraja

Dharmasena Pathiraja – Soldadu Unnahe AKA Old Soldier (1981)

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Though veteran director Dharmasena Pathiraja was noted for his leftist leanings, he said that the Marxists were “out of touch with the realties of the people, their material conditions, power, and even their powerlessness.” In his 1981 drama, Soldadu Unnahe, Pathiraja depicts the realities of four friends: a soldier, a prostitute, a pimp and an alcoholic who take refuge under a Nuga tree from the loud, warlike celebration of Sri Lankan independence. The fireworks and planes overhead give the soldier of the title flashbacks, reminding him of his experiences in World War II at the end of the British Raj. What have these four unfortunates gained from independence, and what is their future? Chosen the best film of the decade 1980-1990 by the Catholic International Cinema Organization. Awards/Festivals: Sri Lankan Presidential Awards for Best Film and Best Director; Eighth Indian International Film Festival; 16th Singapore International Film Festival 2003; Jeonju International Film Festival 2009. Read More »

Dharmasena Pathiraja – Bambaru Avith AKA The Wasps Are Here (1977)

Set in a fishing village named Kalpitiya, explores tradition and exploitation because of capitalism in this small village. Read More »

Dharmasena Pathiraja – Ponmani AKA Younger Sister (1977)

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Ponmani comes from the highest caste in Tamil society, but her family has fallen on hard times and can’t even pay what they owe on her married eldest sister’s dowry, let alone find dowries for her and her middle sister. Her father sits idly by, reflecting on past glories, while her brother works to pay the money owed and preserve the family honor. When she takes matters into her own hands and elopes with a boy from the lower fisherman caste, the family honor takes a deathblow. The difficulty of life for a Tamil woman whatever her caste, religion or marital status is given a feminist analysis. This black and white film from Sri Lanka’s rebel Sinhalese auteur, Dharmasena Pathiraja, shows the beauty of Jaffna, an ancient city of temples, churches and beaches, and gives us an idea of the forces behind the civil war that broke out later. Festivals: Singapore International Film Festival 2003. Read More »