The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

Reviving short films of Sri Lanka

Bonsoir Short Film Master Class

The art of short films in Sri Lanka has been used as a stepping stone to lengthy feature film making. Almost all the filmmakers who made their name coming as short filmmakers did not go back to the art that gave them exercise to gain the practical knowledge in making movies. With lack of audience and platform to showcase, the existence and expansion of short film culture in the country was hardly noticed. However at present Sri Lanka makes at least 100 short films a year with professional cameras, home used video cam or mobile phones. But most of these are made by those with lack of experience, education or basic knowledge and it is in this back drop ‘Bonsoir Short Film Master Class’ is being conducted in Colombo for the second consecutive year today, June 24 at the BCIS.

Anomaa Rajakaruna

A joint venture by the French Embassy and Agenda 14 Short Film Festival, award winning young filmmaker, Vimukthi Jayasundara conducted the first master class last year and internationally acclaimed filmmaker Asoka Handagama is to conduct it this year.

“Training young people to do short films and training them to express themselves by making films from more affordable tools is our main aim,”said Anomaa Rajakarunanayke, editor of film magazine ‘14’ and coordinator of the master class told TV Times.

The master class is part of the French Embassy’s effort to promote arts and culture which it earlier did through one of the oldest television programme ‘Bonsoir’ for 26 years.

“Bonsoir was introduced as early as the birth of television in this country but today the television time is dominated by mega serials and reality shows and the unique role played by TV is now taken over by youtube and other social medium and some of the strengths that were unique to TV has been shifted,” said Anomaa who worked for Bonsoir after it reformatted in 2004 inviting young and budding television artistes to conduct programmes.“After taking up Bonsoir my main duty was to reformat the programme and make Bonsoir a training ground for young people,” she said.

“Communication is not anymore preaching. It has become a visual literacy how to educate young people to tell something visually. Our aim is to do this,” Anomaa explained.

A platform for short films is also created annually with ‘Agenda 14 Short Film festival’ which started last year where a large number of short films were submitted from various part of the country. Seven award winning short films at the festival were screened at French film festival, ‘Bonjour Cinema’ that concluded on Saturday.

“We wanted to create a platform for the young people who use visual medium for expression and there were very good short films produced and we can see hope through these creations,” Anomaa who is also the director of the short film festival said.
The young filmmakers selected obtain opportunities to get international exposure and promote Sri Lankan short films abroad.
Packaging Sri Lanka’s best short films and to create a DVD from the best selected short films and offering it to the audience here and abroad is our aim.

Asoka Handagama

“Young filmmakers are going for very different and bold themes. More contemporary issues like Sri Lankan political realities, personal experience, personal struggle and sexual desires are issues recommended for their creations. That way short film makers are more progressive and that’s why they should get some international exposure and our aim is to bridge that gap.
With the demand following Colombo, the Master class is to be conducted in other parts of the country like Ratnapura, Trincomalee and Jaffna.
The people in the North and the East need more exposure and that is why we are doing two in the North and East as we have seen a lot of films from these regions.

This can even lead to a dialogue between the north and the south.

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