The Pune International Centre (PIC) will showcase a clutch of Sri Lankan films in a tribute to the cinema of our neighbouring country. The festival, in its eleventh year, will be held at the National Film Archive of India (NFAI) from August 10 to 13. The festival is free and open for all.
To be held in collaboration with the NFAI, the festival will be inaugurated by Dharmasiri Bandaranayake, eminent Sri Lankan director and playwright. His film Hansa Vilak will also be screened at the festival.
In its previous years, the festival has turned the spotlight on Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Nepal and Iran. The films are a mixed bag in terms of theme.
There are stories of hidden and overt passions (Hansa Vilak and Let Her Cry) and their consequences; of long-lasting and sometimes unforeseen effects of the 25-year-long Civil War which have been embedded in the hearts and minds of people for years (With You, Without You, The Forsaken Land); of superstitions and unrequited love (Vaishnavee); of the past which returns unexpectedly to haunt characters and disrupt lives (Flowers of the Sky); of encounters with the preternatural (Alone in the Valley); of the spiritual and the temporal (Sankara); and of social climbers with high aspirations (The Hunt), among others.
Most of the films have won multiple awards — some national and a few international. Interestingly, director Prasanna Vithanage enjoys working with well-known Indian editor Sreekar Prasad. Prasad has edited two films by Vithanage that will be shown in Pune (With You, Without You and Flowers of the Sky); Dhritiman Chatterjee from Bengal, who had acted in Satyajit Ray’s Pratidwandi, is also the protagonist of Asoka Handagama’s film, Let Her Cry.
Vimukthi Jayasundara, who was a jury member at this year’s Pune International Film Festival, was the winner of the Golden Camera at Cannes in 2005 for his film The Forsaken Land — again, a film that is part of the package. And we have Sri Lanka’s most awarded actress, Swarna Mallawarachchi, who stars in three of the films to be shown (Hansa Vilak, Let Her Cry and The Hunt).
The Civil War did hamper the film industry, yet Sri Lanka has posted cinematic successes, winning plaudits at home and abroad for her films.
As the films in the festival will reveal, the subjects tackled by directors are often gritty. Critic Olivier Verdin calls them “daring and original that push the boundaries of narrative, form and Sri Lankan storytelling”.
The festival has been curated with the help of Ashley Ratnavibhushana, writer, editor, film critic and director of the Asian Film Centre in Sri Lanka.