Film Festival An Innovative Addition to Performing Arts in Kandy
The first ever Kandy International Film
Festival (KIFF) that lasted five consecutive days concluded on Sunday
July 26th. The festival showed a total of 15 films from 11 countries
including four films from Sri Lanka. The festival was ceremonially
inaugurated on Thursday June 23rd evening at the Peradeniya University
open air theatre, also known as the “Wala” that first became known to
the Kandy public for staging Ediriweera Sarathchandra's classic plays
Maname and Sinhabahu. The Opening film was director David Dusa's French
film Fleurs Du Mal (Flowers of Evil). The chief guest was the Governor
of the Central province Tikiri Kobbakaduwa.
In keeping with the international flavour of
the festival the film itself was “international” in the full sense of
the term. The film is French. Director Dusa has a Swedish, South
African and French background. The story set in Paris-Tehran is
described as a “rootless love story between Gecko, young and free, and
Anahita, an Iranian woman in exile - tangled up in History and steeped
in Internet.” In many ways the film captures the rapidly changing
technology/internet driven world that we, especially the younger
generation, live in today.
The general view of those who saw the
inaugural film was that it was enjoyable good cinema. However, not
everybody liked the idea of sitting on the hard terrace on the
Peradeniya Campus “Wala” to watch the film. The Wala is fun when it is
full to capacity and creates a charged and expectant atmosphere. On
this occasion the attendance was only about 150.
In general films shown at the festival each
attracted around 75 to 100, not a very big number. Nevertheless the
organizers were quite upbeat. It was the first time that such a
festival was held in Kandy, or for that matter anywhere in Sri Lanka.
Perhaps, more pre-event publicity would have increased attendance.
However, those who attended genuinely wanted to be a part of the
festival and enjoyed the films and other events associated with it.
Every screening was followed by a
discussion and question and answer session with the participation of
somebody directly associated with the film. For example, following the
screening of the film Aagayaa Pookal (the Tamil dubbed version of the
original Sinhala film Akasa Kusum (Flowers of the Sky) Malini Fonseka
who played a lead role in the film and its director Prasanna Vithanage
as well as the KIFF co-founder cum chief organizer Sam Holt were
present to comment and answer questions. Director Vithanage in answer
to a question said that his goal in making the film was to say
something meaningful about actors and actresses that contribute so much
to the cinema. Malini Fonseka was asked whether she considered the
story of the film to be autobiographical. She responded by saying that
although it was not a portrayal of her life story, she felt a strong
empathy for the main character. The festival programme also included
several panel discussions on important aspects of cinema. As in the
case of the films that were shown the panel discussions also attracted
a small but enthusiastic audience and the discussions were uniformly of
a high quality.
The organizers held a Gala Dinner to
celebrate the inaugural KIFF. The highlight of the evening was the
recognition of the veteran film actress Malini Fonseka with a Lifetime
Achievement Award for her long years of outstanding service to Sri
Sam Holt, took breather from his busy
schedule to sit down with me in
his temporary command center to share his views and thoughts on the
on-going festival. Sam who hails from Maine, USA also has a strong
affinity towards Kandy where he had spend parts of his childhood and
later as an adult.
During his many travels to Sri Lanka Sam
produced two documentaries based around the pilgrimages in southern Sri
Lanka and also ventured into bike tours that unfortunately folded after
one 14-day tour due to the security situation at that time.
Commenting on the KIFF, Sam explained why
Kandy was chosen as the location for the festival. Besides his strong
connection to the city, Sam mentioned the high density of schools in
the Kandy area, its central location and the fact that Kandy is listed
as one of world heritage sites by the UNESCO made it the ideal location
for this. Bevis Manathunge assisted him in this.
When I asked him about the vetting process
that went into selecting the movies, Sam explained that they looked for
movies released in 2010-11. Sam and his co-founders Ethan Higbee and
Suba Sivakumaran reviewed movies that premiered at Rotterdam, Tribeca
and the Sundance film festivals and looked for movies of South Asian
focus or that dealt with issues relating to what Sri Lankans might be
affected by. The original plan was to premier 20 movies divided equally
into documentaries, Asian, International and Sri Lankan. Sam and his
team sent out invitations calling for submissions in March for 30
movies and of that 15 were selected. Of this, four were Sri Lankan,
five documentaries and six narratives. It's interesting to note that
all the movies that were premiered at KIFF have an Asian component in
Commenting on the process to set up KIFF,
Sam said that the biggest
hurdle was getting the censorship board to approve the movies. The
National Film Corporation facilitated this and all movies were cleared.
His hope is that KIFF would prompt other such festivals in Sri Lanka in
the future and the processes of getting to host this event would be
relaxed. His other concern was the need for local sponsorships to
sustain this venture. Sam believes the success of this year's KIFF
would attract more local sponsors. He was also thankful to the Governor
and Chief Minister of Central Province for their assistance and
Sam sees KIFF as the mere beginning of a
much broader and longer term process to help develop the film industry
in Sri Lanka. KIFF will return to Kandy next year and helpfully will
become an annual event. He is exploring the possibility of having film
workshops and training programmes for new entrants to the industry.
Veteran film director and dramatist G D L Perera has generously offered
the excellent facilities he has built in Karalliyadde a thirty-minute
drive from Kandy town in a stunningly picturesque location bordering
the Mahaveli and Victoria reservoir for such a programme. Sam Holt is
especially keen to help develop more opportunities and avenues in this
country for upcoming artists in all forms to express themselves.
Further information about KIFF can be
found at http://www.kandyinternationalfilmfestival.com
Ramitha Herath contributed to
Kandy Nature Society invites you
Kandy Nature Society (KNS), which was formed, recently invites nature
lovers of Kandy to join them. The main objective of the society is to
protect Kandy's environment and natural beauty. They are inviting
people who can bring in fresh ideas and resources to improve and
protect Kandy's natural environment. the nature. KNS wants to promote
tree panting, and involve school children in activities such as art
competitions, talks and seminars on the subject. KNS that currently has
about forty members want to target school children in particular
because it believes that the key to protection of the environment lies
with the younger generation.
The founder of KNS Mohan Samarakoon says
that many schools plead that they do not have time for activities that
promote environmental awareness. He urges schools to have a more
positive attitude on the issue. Those interested in knowing more about
KNS should call (94) 81 2236 770 (94) 81 222 3591, Mobile: (94) 77 306
9851, 7 Rajapihilla Terrace, Kandy, Sri Lanka.
TrendEn Sets New Trend in Kandy
TrendEn, the latest addition to the selection of
fashionable dress boutiques in Kandy was recently unveiled amidst a
large gathering of business leaders by the mayor of Kandy Mr. Raja
Pushpakumara and the proprietary partner of Sigiri Cinema, Katugastota
Mrs. Dilini Weerasinghe.
Speaking at the opening, joint partner of
TrendEn, Zeloni Jayawardane commented that this has been a lifelong
dream of hers. She went on to add that one of the biggest obstacles she
had to face trying to achieve her dream was convincing her husband that
she could be both housewife as well as business woman without one
affecting the other. She was able to win him over and how he is not
only her biggest supporter in this venture, but also her business
Given the limited space available for the
boutique, Zeloni commented that it was quite a task for her and her
interior designer Ms. Suwashini Weerasinghe to come-up with a décor
that optimized the space and also provide a unique environment. The duo
settled for a Black and White theme complemented with mirrors to make
it look spacious.
When asked her target market, Zeloni
replied that her current focus was on women and teens who are fashion
conscious and are looking for something unique and trendy for a
TrendEn is strategically located in one of
Kandy's top residential suburbs in Anniewatta opposite Nihal's Supper
Market on George E de Silva Mawatha (Tel. 077-061-6738). The shop is
open from 10.00 a.m. to 8.30 p.m. on weekdays and 10.00 a.m. to 9.00
p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
Commercial Credit Opens Branch in
The Kandy-based finance company
Commercial Credit recently opened its 6th branch in Badulla. The
company that is over thirty years old, has acquired a reputation for
being one of the most reliable in the business.
Chairman of Commercial Credit Mrs. Vagdevi
Fernando says that the secret of success is delivering what it promises
and never making promises that it cannot deliver. When in 1982 when
people were loosing confidence in finance companies, Commercial Credit
deposit base grew she says. The company also responds to individual
customer needs and allows the liquidation of deposits prematurely when
Mrs. Fernando won the Federation of
Commerce and Industry Central Province Entrepreneur of the Year award
Kandy Hospital to Have
State-of-the-Art Cancer Centre
Kandy General (Teaching) Hospital (KGH) is to have a state-of-the art
cancer care centre soon. The centre will be completed over the next
three years at an estimated cost of Rs 550 million that will be raised
in part from public contributions. The entire project will be modeled
on the Kandy Eye Centre and the Nephrology Unit that were also built
partly with funds raised from the public.
The KGH Hospital Committee under the
leadership of its chairman Mohan Samarakoon has taken the initiative to
support this project. The development of the Emergency Treatment Unit
(ETU) that is popularly known as the Accident Ward was the first
project that Mr. Samarakoon promoted when he joined the hospital
committee a few years ago.
The KGH Committee which works as a support
arm to the Hospital consists
of representatives from the community appointed for a limited term by
the Hospital Director. It has a long history going back to 1958 when
the first committee took office. The late Dr. Nihal Karunarathne was
one of the most eminent chairs the committee has ever had. He was
primarily responsible for creating the Nephrology Unit of KGH at a cost
of Rs 395m that would be worth more than double in current prices. The
then Director of the hospital Dr. A M S Beligaswatta played a major
role in that project.
Today the only full-fledged major cancer
hospital is in Maharagama, a suburb of Colombo. It draws patients not
only from Colombo but also from the rest of the country.
KGH attracts cancer patients from six
provinces including those
resident in the Eastern Province. The current facilities for treatment
of cancer patents in KGH are far from satisfactory. It has two oncology
wards and one medical ward and a small and under-equipped haematology
ward. The hospital has no paediatric cancer ward. The hospital has a
paediatric cancer surgeon but lacks the requisite theater and other
facilities to provide a full service to patients. The 60-bed Cancer
Home that is run as a non-profit by the NGO Kandy Cancer Society will
be an integral part of the new facility. The goal of the new project is
to fill the major gaps, upgrade facilities and integrate the now
physically scattered services and provide a first rate service.
It is important to note that cancer, which
is a chronic disease, is on the increase in the country in the context
of an aging population. In 2008 11% of Sri Lanka's population was
estimated to be over sixty five. By 2021 this is projected to rise to
17%. This means the demand for cancer treatment is bound to rise.
Mr. Samarakoon told The Kandy News that
they have pledges from rich donors that will raise around Rs 100m to
the project. He expects to collect around Rs 250m from the general
public. The government has promised to contribute the balance in
matching funds to make up the total sum of Rs 550m required.
A Cleaner Kandy
I was very
interested in the news item of your June issue, which gave the welcome
news of a concerted garbage disposal campaign launched on the
initiative of the enthusiastic current Mayor Mr. Raja Pushpakumara and
the equally enthusiastic Municipal Commissioner Mr. Chandana Tennekoon.
According to your correspondent “now piles of uncollected garbage are
not seen (in town).” Unfortunately, after buying your paper, on
returning home to my home at 107 Anniewatta Road it was clear to me
that the campaign, that may keep the town clean, had not reached our
The picture shows the piles of
uncollected garbage deposited just opposite my front wall adjoining the
main road. This is a feature that has prevailed for many years. I have
written numerous letters to the KMC to no avail. In desperation I wrote
to the Deputy Inspector General of the Central Province at the height
of the Dengue epidemic. In response the police erected a “No Garbage
Dumping” notice but people have completely ignored it. Of curse the
“law” is not enforced against violators.
I make the following suggestions as
a sustainable solution to the problem:
1. KMC should collect garbage more
frequently from residential areas and not just from the town center
2. The KMC must collect garbage from households on by-lanes and not
limit the service to those on the main roads.
3. Police must make an effort to apprehend and prosecute those who
throw garbage on roadside in violation of the law.
Dr. Mark Amerasinghe
Former Orthopaedic Surgeon, Kandy Hospital,
107, Anniewatta Road, Kandy