A future of Sri Lankan cinema moulded, shaped and tutored by world renowned film teachers from Hollywood would bloom once again at the Punchi Theatre on the evening of August 12 when a group of 40 kids setting aside their racial, religious and linguistic differences to work for one aim- to tell their fascinating stories through cinema.
The ten-day film workshop conducted from August 3 at the tranquil and spacious Sarvodaya centre in Bandaragama, will come alive to the spirit and energy of young people of diverse ethnic, linguistic, religious and social backgrounds, as they express their creativity through the medium of film.
The programme was following the successful story of last year’s workshop created, funded, and organized by the U.S. Embassy with assistance from the Galle Film Festival.
“The goal is to make this an annual event to develop creativity among Sri Lankan youth and to bring together young people from all over the island to work together and learn about one another,” said one of the organisers Damita Nikapota, festival director and co-founder of the Galle Film Festival.
Embracing the idea of education and co-existence through the universal language of art this year’s workshop programme features two, 10-day film camps with a total of approximately 80 young people ranging from14 -17 years of age drawn from Kalutara, Trincomalee, Anuradhapura, Hambantota, Matara, Bandarawela, Galle, Badulla, Batticaloa, Moneragala, Amparai, Puttalam and Jaffna districts.
The second of the film camps will be held from August 14 to 24 at the Sudharshan Conference Centre on the scenic Rumassala Hill, overlooking the expanse of Galle Bay and the programme draws to a close on August 24 with the screening of the workshop productions at the historic Maritime Museum in the Galle Fort.
“Some of the films were quite beautiful, because they switched seamlessly from Sinhalese to Tamil and from Tamil to Sinhalese - the kids had decided that it would be unfair for it to be in one language,” says Damita Nikapota speaking about last year’s experience. Inspired by similar programs conducted in the Middle East for Israeli and Palestinian kids, Damita wanted to workout in the Sri Lankan context.
Highly respected American acting coach Constance Tillotson from Hollywood collaborated with Sri Lankan film artiste, Kasinathar Gnanadas and a team of trilingual volunteers who have once again returned to the film camp collaborating with Toronto based director Maya Bastian and local filmmakers Buddhini Ekanyake, and Dhanushka Gunathilaka to co-ordinate the workshop programme.
“Through the film-making process I witnessed the children’s spirits grow in confidence, humour and freedom of expression.” looking back at last year’s camp, Constance said.
“What blew me away was that, I worked with great actors in Hollywood and sometimes it was very difficult for them to take direction but with these children I would give acting direction or advice on set and they’d redo the scene, taking the directions like experts.
It would take a discussion with actors from Hollywood who speak my own language to understand what I wanted in the scene but these children were taking direction like 30- year-old pros. It was amazing to be witness to it, and it was so beyond language,” she added.