The bilingual site devoted to the cultural life in Sri Lanka and in France                                                        
Le site bilingue consacré à la vie culturelle au Sri Lanka et en France

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Fascination of the body

Paul Cézanne

In the Light of Gauguin


Jean de La Fontaine

Malraux / Segalen


Pigeon houses in Quercy






Death Penalty

Mental Health



Miniatures of Kangra, India


May 2001

Prasanna Vithanage's latest release
Anantha Rathriya (Dark Night of the Soul)

The eagerly awaited Prasanna Vithanage's "Anantha Rathriya" has now been released. Although he had exploited a wide range of technical fireworks in his first film "Sisila Ginigani" which may have afflicted the content of his story, in his new film he is much more restrained and disciplined without sacrificing his control over the technical powers of the cinema, using low-key lighting, colours which are the mood of the different sequences and his use of subliminal flashbacks and sound effects as well as silence in a very intelligent and clever manner.

Suwisal is a successful, middle-aged company director, but he has a melancholic personality and is very forgetful. His beautiful young fiancée finds herself having to remind him of daily appointments, special occasions and routine things.

Suwisal is a reluctant husband - to - be. He has casual relationships with other women and appears to be troubled by something deep in his psyche - something he tries to forget in order to maintain emotional stability.

This stability is suddenly upset when he is called to serve on a jury at a murder trial. The defendant is a young sex worker accused of murdering a client. Suwisal recognizes her as PIYUM, the young servant from his aunt's house, whom he knew twenty five years ago. He had a sexual encounter with her and she became pregnant. But refused to see her again and help her through her difficulties.

    Written & Directed by Prasanna Vithanage
    Casts : Swarna Mallawarachchi,
    Ravindra Randeniya, Yashoda Wimaladarma,
    Tony Ranasinghe
    Director of Photography : M. D. Mahindapala
    Music : Harsha Makalande
    Film Editor : Lal Piyasena
    Producer : Damayanthi Fonseka
    Running time : 87 mins

    National Awards : 8 "Sri Lanka Film Critics Forum" (affiliated to FIPRESCI) Awards including Best director

    International Awards : Honourable Mention at the first Pusan International Film Festival

    Film Festivals : Melbourne, Fukuoka, Pusan, Canberra, Nantes Hawaii, India (IFFI) Fribourg, Singapore, Penang, Manila, Shanghai, Trivandrum, Delhi (Cinemaya), Culcutta

Suwisal is not sure if Piyum recognizes him. She says nothing. He is advised to remain in the jury and he votes with the majority to find her guilty as charged. She is sentenced to ten years imprisonment. But we see that it is Suwisal who has been sentenced to a lifetime of guilt. Remorse and despair. He now feels he should share some responsibility for the life Piyum was forced to lead. He tries to lodge an appeal on her behalf but he is advised about the consequences if his past becomes public knowledge. Suwisal gets angry. Nobody seems to understand his need to rectify the wrongdoing of twenty five years ago. He has to rectify his conscience because he can never change what he did.

Suwisal persists, he visits Piyum in prison and offers her help. Did Piyum recognize him at the trial? Does she accept his help? Is Suwisal released from his lifetime of torment? We are given the answer in the few frames of the film.

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  September 2000

Film on Tamil-Sinhala unity is a big hit in Lanka
Source : Hindustan Times, New Delhi (September 16th 2000)

"A Sri Lankan medical technician's debut film on Tamil-Sinhala unity in the time of war is breaking box office records in the civil war-torn country.

'Saroja' by Somaratne Dissanayake, who gave up a lucrative job in Australia to enter film-making, is running to packed movie halls since its release in early March this year.

The subject has touched a chord with the war-weary Sri Lankans so much that cinemas are arranging special shows early mornings to accommodate the rush.

"The two little girls (a Sinhalese and a Tamil playing the lead roles) have overnight become celebrities," says Dissanayake, who sold his house in Australia to finance the film.

The film, which received applause at the ongoing 2nd Cinemaya Asian Film Festival here, tells the story of a Tamil Tiger and his six-year-old daughter being taken care of by a Sinhalese family during the conflict against much opposition.

The film, one of the high budget films made in Lanka at (Indian) Rs 60 lakh, fulfils the director's belief that "there are kind-hearted people in both the communities".

"This is how people want to live", says Dissanayake, who received unprecedented support from the nation's film community to bring out the film. Four well known and international award-winning actors have acted in the film without accepting any fee.

It took only seven months for Dissanayake to complete the film which has two non-professional actors in the lead roles of the two girls. "

Sri Lankan child stars win an international award

Two Sri Lankan child stars Pramudi Karunaratne (9) and Nithyawani Kandasamy (7) who acted in Somaratne Dissanayake's 'Saroja' have won the best acting award at the 15th Iranian International Film Festival held last week.

Pramudi is a year four student of Sangamitta Balika Vidyalaya in Galle and Nithyawani is a grade three student of Ramanathan Hindu Ladies College in Bambalapitiya.

Somaratne Dissanayake

Sri Lanka's master film maker and world renowned film personality Dr. Lester James Pieris speaking exclusively to 'The Lanka Academic' had this to say on the success of the child stars and 'Saroja'.
"It is a movie that had got the message of racial amity very successfully through the use of children and their innocence. These two kids play the role of Saroja and Varuni very successfully and they both are born actors. They seemed to have believed in their characters. In Hollywood there is this famous saying ' You dare not act in competition with kids. They steal the picture'. Saroja is a movie which has a universal validity" Lester James Pieris also said that it is important for all Sri Lankans to see the movie.

'Saroja' has already won seven international awards.


In the 7th Festival des cinémas d'Asie, which took place in France from 6th to 13th February 2001, 45 films were presented from the Near East to the Far East.
The award of the public, offered by the city of Vesoul, was given to the Sri Lankan film maker Somaratne Dissanayake for his film "Saroja", which was screened for the first time in Europe.

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