Sri Lanka's creatives are anything but short of talent, and they are pretty good with producing content independently. It's pretty impressive how much young talent we have, especially from filmmaking students. We combed through a number of short-films and found a few neat ones made this year, ranging from suspense and horror to lovely stories set in rural Sri Lanka. Here's five that you can watch online, and a bonus three more which are unfortunately not available for public viewing as yet.
The Pigeon (පරවියා)
Set in a quiet village, The Pigeon is a beautiful, heart-wrenching story of a mute boy and a suicidal girl. With zero special effects and without a massive cast, the film revolves around the attraction developed between the postman and one of the post recipients, and of the sacrifice he makes.
Directed by Sudharaka Kumudu, the film is nostalgic and evenly paced. The feelings evoked are akin to what you'd experience when reading Duishen, by Aitmatov.
Produced and directed by someone who just hit his 20s, Akash Sk's Eidetic is proof that age and experience aren't always what produces good content. This film throws back to the Boxing Day Tsunami, of the losses incurred during then, and of strong family ties. What sets this film apart is its tinge of magical realism. It's somewhat similar to Divergent in its plotline, but quite well executed nonetheless.
Garden of Bones
Sachi Ediriweera already has a few good productions under his belt: HTM and Wildlings Within. You can expect brilliant cinematography, and atmospheric scenes and soundtrack. For a 10 minute long film packed with suspense and tinged with horror, there's absolutely no dialogue. That says something about how captivating it is, that the whole film is propelled by the scenes and (silent) storyline alone.
Anonymous has a brilliant opening. Just five minutes long, this film definitely has potential and keeps you hooked from the first few seconds itself. It's insanely fast paced, techy, and looks like a thriller/crime film. The shots are great, especially the angles and the overhead shots of Colombo. The letdown is the dialogue: the actors' speech is wooden and staged, the gestures when speaking are puppetish.
Seven minutes long, Thaththa is the story of a father who was missing from the picture and of a child who acutely, feels his absence. With a lovely background score and panoramic shots of paddy fields and the general countryside, the film is soothing for its bucolic setting alone — whilst also evoking pity and despair for the little boy.
Here are three other films that have received international accolades, been shortlisted, or have simply received a lot of hype in Colombo. Unfortunately, other than a few screenings, they aren't uploaded anywhere yet so we can't link them in.
Kakkutta has made it into no less than five international film festivals this year, has had numerous screenings across the world, and has been invited for a special screening at Wellesley College, one of the best private liberal arts colleges in the USA. Directed by Ishani Jayamaha, this follows the story of a ten-year-old boy in a fishing village who aspires to grow up and be a fisherman like his father; except that his father has much more ambitious dreams for him. This makes the child question why his dreams and aspirations — why what would make him happy — is dismissed, as the film pushes forth the idea that Every Dream is Valid.
Based on the Black July riots of 1983, this is a beautifully illustrated stop motion film about the protagonist's past, where he's constantly reminded of the time when he killed a Tamil girl during the pogroms. The only word throughout the movie is the word 'baldiya', which he repetitively hears during his sleep as he's haunted by the image of a blood-filled bucket; the word itself a tool which was used to identify and murder Tamils as they couldn't pronounce the opening consonant. Illustrated by the highly talented doodler Irushi Tennekoon, the film, made by Sumedha Kelegama, Sumudu Atukorala and herself, secured the place for the best animated short film at the Agenda 14 Short Film Festival this year.
A fast paced film with an intensely atmospheric score which will keep you at the edge of your seat, Ladies' Night takes a jab at rich brats in Colombo. Directed by Rehan Mudannayake, it follows a moment in the lives of a group of young adults out on a Wednesday night, and involves a psychotic ex-boyfriend who insists on stalking his former lover who just can't seem to get rid of him. And the former lover is none other than YAMU's own Kinita Shenoy!
There are many more films which showcase local talent, but these are the ones we came across and liked from this year. If there's anything that we've missed and you think should be watched, gives us a shout!