Commonwealth Film Festival Begins in Colombo Nov. 5

Film Shoot

The Commonwealth Film Festival will begin Nov. 5 with the screening of Sri Lanka’s “Sameege Kathawa,” which won the Best Actor Award at the New York City International Film Festival 2013. Films from seventeen Commonwealth countries will be screened at the National Film Corporation Theatre in Colombo. Movie-goers will be able to watch these films free-of-charge during the twice daily screenings from Nov. 6 to 12. The film festival is being held to coincide with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2013 taking place in November.

Addressing the media this week, Chairperson of the Sub-Committee on Social Programmes for CHOGM Mrs. Indrani Sugathadasa outlined the objectives behind the film festival. “We decided on a film festival because cinema is a very powerful medium of communication” Mrs. Sugathadasa said. “It is one that can directly reach into the hearts and minds of the people. It is one that can unite the various geographical entities where people practice different religions and speak different languages. Cinema can be identified as a medium that unifies the different cultures of the more than fifty countries that make up the Commonwealth.”

Veteran Sri Lankan actress and Monitoring MP of the Ministry of Mass Media and Information, Ms. Malini Fonseka said that this was the largest film festival to be held in Sri Lanka and that it was an encouraging sign as the Sri Lankan film industry marks its 67th anniversary.

Among the films being screened during the festival are several international award winners. “Ghetu Putro Komola (Pleasure Boy Komola)” is a film from Bangladesh that deals with sexual abuse. New Zealand’s “Whale Rider” is a contemporary story of love, rejection and triumph in the life of a young Maori girl. “Womanish Ways” from the Bahamas is a documentary on the Women’s Suffrage Movement of the Bahamas, which marked its 50th anniversary last year. India’s entry at the festival will be award-winning Director Satyajit Ray’s “Sonar Kella (the Golden Fortress)” based on his own novel about how a young boy becomes a target for crooks after he claims to remember his past life. Kenyan entry “Ni Sisi” portrays a typical Kenyan community living in harmony despite belonging to different tribes.

Films from Australia, Lesotho, Malaysia, Maldives, Singapore, Pakistan, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania and the United Kingdom will also be screened during the festival.

The Secretary to the Ministry of Mass Media and Information Dr. Charitha Herath said that the main reason for having this film festival is because film is the best means of communication about culture and lifestyles of the different Commonwealth countries.

Chairman of the National Film Corporation Mr. Asoka Serasinghe addressing the media said, “One of the most important features of this festival is that there are some films from countries which have never exhibited films in this country. The other main feature is that most of the films being exhibited have won several international awards. I believe that this would be a very good cinematic experience for the general public.”

Monitoring MP of the Ministry of Mass Media and Information, Mr. A.H.M. Azwer and Mr. Ashley Ratnavibushana, President of the Asian Film Centre and Board Member and Jury Coordinator of the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC), also spoke at the briefing.

The public screenings will take place daily from Nov. 6-12 at 3.30 p.m. and 6.30 p.m. except on Nov. 7 when the screenings will be at 3.00 p.m. and 6.30 p.m. Please send a request to for more information of the screenings.

(Sri Lanka Government Spokesperson for CHOGM 2013)