Sri Lanka

Visakesa Chandrasekaram – Paangshu AKA Earth (2020)

Paangshu revolves around Babanorna (Nita Fernando), a launderer belonging to one of the lowest castes in Sri Lanka. Babanorna is summoned to an identification parade where she identifies Lionel as one of the paramilitary men who abducted her son during the 1988/89 insurgency. While Indika (Jagath Manuwarna), the young public prosecutor, shows little or no interest in helping Babanorna find her missing son, Namalee (Nadie Kammallaweera), the pregnant wife of the paramilitary man, seeks forgiveness from the launderer. As the long hearings in the dilapidated courthouse continue for months, shameful secrets are gradually unearthed by the defeated rebels, victorious soldiers and those who were crushed in between. Read More »

Sumitra Peries – Gahanu Lamai (1978)

A rather sad tale of impossible love from first-time director Sumitra Peries, wife of famed Sri Lankan director Lester James Peries. A boy and girl fall for each other though they know this can never be. She belongs to a lower social strata than he does. The film is basically her reflections on this failed love affair. Read More »

Vimukthi Jayasundara – Sulanga Enu Pinisa AKA The Forsaken Land (2005)

Synopsis:
Anura is a loyal soldier tainted by the tedium of a service he has forgotten how to define. His only company at the remote outpost is an alcoholic soldier named Piyasiri, whom he sees in passing as they trade shifts. Anura finds that even the prankish behavior of the infrequently passing soldiers isn’t enough to offset the numbing stillness of his eternal wait anymore. Even at home, the inertia of the emotionless landscape persists, and between disconnected sexual encounters with his disinterested wife, Lata, detached conversations with his single sister, Soma, and the heart-breaking dejection of their young charge, Batti, it appears as if, in this war-torn wasteland, hope is nothing more than forgotten emotion and routine is the only nourishment for a collection of sad, starved souls. Read More »

Lester James Peries – Rekava (1956)

A Palme d’Or contender in 1957, “Rekava” is the first “real” Sri-Lankan film as distinguished from the Indian film industry. It’s the first Sri-Lankan film to be shot outdoors and the first film by legendary director Lester James Peries. “Rekava” is a visual poem on village life and local mysticism. The central narrative follows a young boy’s rise and fall as a kind-of unlikely healer. The striking finale which features the “Daha Ata Sanniya” ritual is one of the most unusual and impressively realized sequences in all of cinema. Read More »

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 »