New Delhi: Cinema as a popular cultural mouthpiece is trying to revive itself in Sri Lanka after 30 years of civil war, courtesy a bunch of progressive filmmakers, new stories — and post-production labs in India.
The filmmakers are also exploring themes from the life of the Buddha in their search for new subjects.
“Normally, we make 20-22 movies a year, including comedies, political and artistic films. Before the civil war, movies were the lifeline of entertainment in the country which had more than 300 theatres. Now the number has shrunk to 150. Several theatres have been destroyed in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo,” Ashley Ratnavibhushana, jury coordinator of the network for the promotion of Asian cinema in Sri Lanka, told IANS.
Ratnavibhushana was here as a delegate at Inner Path, a festival of Buddhist films, performance and culture at Azad Bhavan in the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).
The country saw three decades of civil strife, which came to an end in 2009 with the decimation of rebel Tamil Tigers at the hands of the military.
But Ratnavibhushana regretted that the “Sri Lankan government is not helping commercial and independent cinema revive”.
The cinema promoted by the country’s film corporation is mostly propaganda about the civil war and violence shown from the perspective of the government, he said. It is easier for people to relate to the same.
“We don’t have a film archive and several films, including masterpieces, have been destroyed. The country does not have any film school. Only a few new filmmakers have been abroad to study filmmaking. Most of the filmmakers are self-taught,” Ratnavibhushana said.
Two of Dodanthenna’s new movies, Mata and August Drizzle are about the civil war. In Mata, a government-backed movie, the actor plays a sniper shooter and in August Drizzle, a disabled soldier.