TV Times

Sanjeewa flies high with ‘Flying Fish’

By Susitha R. Fernando

In a country where cinema has become an industry that has almost breathed its last, it is interesting to hear that lesser known young filmmakers, purely armed with talent and controlled budget are making movies that win the world attention.

A single handed effort by young Sanjeewa Pushpakumara a postgraduate of Kelaniya University, diploma holder in Cinematography who managed to go to Korea and study cinema, made ‘Ingilena Maluwo’ (Flying Fish) a movie with a mixture of his own experiences of his childhood in Eastern Sri Lanka.

With a demand from many international film festivals, this debut film will be screened in New York, Brussels and Russia parallelly in this week.

Presented with the Hubert Bals Post Production Fund Award of the 40th International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR), 2011, Sanjeewa’s maiden feature was first nominated for the Tiger award and the NETPAC Award at the same festival and since then the film had been flying around the world competing and screening at various international film festivals.

Some of them included ‘New Directors Competition’ at 37th Seattle IFF, Washington, USA in May- June, ‘Main Competition’ at Ars International Film Festival Katowich–Poland in June and ‘uovo Cinema Competition for Lino Micciche Award’ at 47th Pesaro IFF, Italy in June, the film will compete at ‘New Territories Competitions’ at St. Petrsburg IFF, Russia this week while it is also slated to be screened Under Contemporary Asian Cinema Series at Museum of Modern Art New York, USA.

‘Ingilena Maluwo’ will fly to Korea where Sanjeewa mastered his filmmaking to compete at ‘Red Chamlin Awards’ in the Asian Competition at the 5th Cinema Digital International Film Festival (CiniDi IFF) -Soul, South Korea in August, in the Main Competition aof the 34th 3continents IFF in France in November while it also will be screened at the 47th Chicago IFF, USA in October and have also received an Official Invitation for the 5th Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA).

Besides, the film had been receiving rave reviews from critics including the New York Times. Writing a review, when it was to be screened at IFFR, Dutch critic, Door Ronald Glasbergen wrote “the beginning of the film is reminiscent of another debut film, Pathar Panchali (1955), by the Indian master Satyajit Ray. An important difference between the Indian film and the film of Pushpakumara is that the latter plays against a current and highly flammable political background. This is not the only difference. The background of ‘Flying Fish’ is the twenty five years of arduous war in Sri Lanka,”.

“In the film three story lines run through each other. The first story is about a twenty year old girl who has an affair with a soldier. She gets pregnant. Her father is ashamed.The second story is about a widow and her eight children. The woman has an affair with a villager, her son works in a fish market. The third story is about a couple that has to contribute money to the Tigers. If they do not meet that wish of the Tamil rebels their thirteen year old daughter will be taken. In this way the war threatens to penetrate deep into the lives of the characters,”

Young filmmaker Pushpakumara

“’s the courage of the filmmakers to address this issue and combine it with specific artistic ambitions. It’s a debut that makes one curious,” Ronald Glasbergen has summed up.

Writing a review on Sanjeewa’s film which was screened under “New Territories” programme of the Second St. Petersburg International Film Festival “Kinoforum”, it was written “The film ‘Flying Fish’ deserves special attention. This is a completely different name and a “new voice” that speaks a very complex visual language. Besides, Sri Lanka is an absolutely new film territory.

According to another critic, “Flying Fish” is on the border of documentary and feature film, on the border of different systems of cinematographic thinking , but it is exactly this trend that is very fashionable in the modern cultural situation. The story itself is told in such a way that it includes a lot of observations: everyday details, views of the villages of Sri Lanka, natural landscapes – all these give an impression of a unique beauty.

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