|Sunday, 29 August 2004|
Sarasaviya Awards :
And the verdict is...
by Lakmal Welabada
Inoka Sathyangani, Damitha Abeyratne and Sanath Gunathilake won the awards of Best Directress, Best Actress and Best Actor respectively at the Sarasaviya Film Award Festival held on August 19. Taking time off from their busy schedule, the three 'bests' spoke to the Sunday Observer about the festival and their awards.
Inoka Sathyangani, 'feminist of the local cinema' won the Best Director's Award for her film 'Sulan Kirilli' (Wind Bird). "I thank the jury for giving me the award but I have to be frank about the organising part of the ceremony, which was very poor. We felt the difference, as this is not the first time we attended a Sarasaviya Film Festival. Sri Lankans are capable of presenting a more elaborate ceremony. The earlier festivals were well organised, flashy and glamorous events. Actually, being award winners we also feel uncomfortable especially when outsiders question us about it. It was disappointing," she emphasises. However, Inoka is all praise for the jury decision.
"Lots of people appreciated the jury decisions this time. As the judgements given for the awards were smart, honest and outstanding. I'm commenting on it not because my film 'Sulan Kirilli' won eight awards," she laughs.
'Abortion' was the theme of 'Sulan Kirilli' "I selected such a theme as I have been dealing with the subject of abortion for a long time. Abortion is an offence in the penal code. The doctor or whoever who performs the abortion and the victim, along with the supporting party can be punished under this.
But there are so many illegal abortion centres throughout the country. I know this subject thoroughly as I did a documentary 'Thuttirimal' for the Women's Bureau in 1999.
As women we have a great feeling for motherhood. As creative artistes we can't just close our eyes and make films for fun. I feel it is my moral duty and obligation to do some justice to all the women who suffer from the particular issue. I do it also on behalf of the major issues where lot of people in this society just ignore categorising them as 'women's issues'.
We can't call 'abortions' as only a women's issue as we do not know that the child to be born is a girl or a boy. Hence this problem matters to the whole of humankind," stresses the directress.
Sanath Gunathilake won the Best Actor's Award for his role in Sumithra Peris' 'Sakman Maluwa' (Garden) (which also won the award for the Best Film).
"I salute the jury for their correct decisions over awards. I also thank Sumithra Peris, the directress, Lester James Peris, Script writer and Anthony Page, Producer of the film for providing me the chance to play such a serious role in their film. The Award was a big encouragement for me.
Actually it was a film that I took part with sacrifice. I had to diminish the glamour I had as an actor to get myself into this role. But, I'm very happy to say that I've got an unexpected ovation for it from people of many walks of society. While 'Sakman Maluwa' was on the screen many school pupils and university students wrote and phoned me admiring my role in the film," he says.
"When talking about this year's Sarasaviya Film Festival, I have to state my disappointment. The standard of organising was very poor. I heard that unlike earlier it was a private company who handled it," he says.
So far Sanath has won four awards as the Best Actor and one award for Best Supporting Actor. His production 'Sisila Gini Gani' won the 'Best Producer's Award a few years ago.
Damitha Abeyratne won the Best Actress award for her role as a garment factory worker in 'Sulan Kirilli'.
"My thanks should go to Inoka Sathyangani, the directress for giving me the opportunity to act in her film. Becoming the Best Actress of the year is the dream of every actor and actress. I'm very happy I could win it this year," she says with joy.
"Apart from everything, getting nominated along with veteran film actress Malani Fonseka in this year's Sarasaviya Awards was the biggest award I have ever got.
Damitha won the Best Actress Award for the same film at the Dacca International Film Festival held in Bangladesh on January 25 this year. She was the Best Actress at the UNDA Tele Awards for the teledrama 'Dandubasnamanaya' in 1996. Damitha won the Best Supporting Actress Award and a Merit Award in the Sarasaviya Film Awards for her role in the film 'Mee Haraka' (Water buffalo) directed by Linton Semage in the same year. Damitha refrained from talking about the 'organising part' of this year's Sarasaviya Festival, but hinted that she was not that happy about it as the others were as well. She will release her first CD and Cassette 'Jeevithaya Kaviyak' (Life is a poem) which comprises original songs of Damitha on September 14.
Produced by Lake House