The tranquil and spacious Sarvodaya centre in Bandaragama is alive to the spirit and energy of young people of diverse ethnic, linguistic, religious and social backgrounds, as a children’s film camp is being held from August 3-12 for youth to express their creativity through the medium of film. The finale will be a screening of the films (produced by the young participants) at the Punchi Theatre on the evening of the 12th.
The second of the film camps will be held from August 14 -24 at the Sudharshan Conference Centre on the scenic Rumassala Hill, overlooking the expanse of Galle Bay. Here again a separate but similar group of young people from across the country will be living and working together, preparing to tell their stories on film.
About 80 young people ranging from14 -17 years are participating in the programme. The participants have come from Kalutara, Trincomalee, Anuradhapura, Hambantota, Matara, Bandarawela, Galle, Badulla, Batticaloa, Moneragala, Amparai, Puttlam and Jaffna district. This year’s programme ends on August 24 with the screening of the workshop productions at the historic Maritime Museum in the Galle Fort.
This year too, there will be a programme of activities for the young participants including a visit to a film studio, the services of a cutting edge Sri Lankan CGI (Computer Generated Images) specialist and screenings of films made by and for young people As some of the deepest fault lines in modern Sri Lanka, lie along the issue of language, unsurprisingly, many among last year’s camp’s 40 participants (from Moneragala, Hatton, Batticaloa, Puttalam, Trincomalee, Hambantota, Jaffna, Galle, Anuradhapura, Matara and Bandarawela) spoke only one language – Sinhala or Tamil. But where there’s a movie to be made, compromises can be found and they produced eight short films that were screened at the Punchi Theatre in Borella.
“Some of the films were quite beautiful, because they switched seamlessly from Sinhalese to Tamil and from Tamil to Sinhalese - the kids had decided to it would be unfair for it to be in one language,” says Damita Nikapota, festival director and co-founder of the Galle Film Festival. Inspired by similar programmes conducted in the Middle East for Israeli and Palestinian kids, Damita decided to see if it would work in the Sri Lankan context.
At the 2009 film camp American acting coach Constance Tillotson from Hollywood collaborated with Sri Lankan film makers Anoma Rajakaruna, Kasinathar Gnanadas and a team of trilingual volunteers to make the experience a memorable one for its young participants.
Constance Tillotson and Kasinathar Gnanadas are back at the film camp this year collaborating with Toronto based director Maya Bastian and local filmmakers Buddhini Ekanyake and Dhanushka Gunathilaka to co-ordinate the workshop programme.