Lankan cinema lacks support; film-makers are self-taught, says Dharmasiri Bandaranayake
The Sri Lankan film industry needs support, said Dharmasiri Bandaranayake, director general of cultural affairs, Sri Lanka. He was in the city attending the festival of films from Sri Lanka as the chief guest. The event was organised by the Pune International Centre (PIC).
“The Sri Lanka has no film school. Our film-makers are all self-taught and have never been to any film school. We want to bring film schools to our country and while I am here, I plan to speak to the National Film Archive of India (NFAI) and Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) to share their skill sets and perhaps begin short-term courses in Sri Lanka,” said Bandaranayake
“Initially, I was a political activist and was attracted to theatre since my school days as I felt that art is my life,” he said. “I am a theatre man. The first time I stepped on to the stage, it was as an actor in a drama. Later, I acted in five films and I went on to write the script of Hansa Vilak (The Swan Lake). I directed it in 1980 and it was screened in Manheim international film festival, a festival for first-time directors. Incidentally, director Mrinal Sen saw my film in Germany,” said Bandaranayake, who is also a well-known award-winning film director, actor, producer and playwright.
When Bandaranayake walked into the premises of the NFAI, he recalled his first visit to the institution and his meeting with the founder director PK Nair.
“I first visited Pune to enrol in the film appreciation course conducted by NFAI in 1986. I wanted to study film-making, but it was too late to do so as I had no degree. Similarly, I was here again in 1989 when I had to run away from my country from the civil war. Once again Nair helped me stay in Pune for a month,” recalls Bandaranayake.
Bandaranayake was influenced by polish film-maker Andrzej Munk’s film The Passenger, that he watched in Sri Lanka. The film changed his attitude towards life and found a new calling in the form of performing arts. He also hails film-makers Satyajit Ray from India, Akira Kurosaw from Japan and James Leslie Perez from Sri Lanka, as the fathers of Asian cinema for they have played a major role in his life and the cinema he made.
He was very pleased to see that there is no divide between independent and commercial Indian films. In Sri Lanka, it is a sad situation that film-makers make films only for film festivals and not for the audience, unlike India, where Indian cinema is made for the masses.