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SAP Seminar Series: "Cinematic Image of Village: the Portrayal of Village in Sinhala Films /Sri Lankan Cinema" by Athula Samarakoon

Monday, February 12, 2018 at 12:15pm to 1:30pm

Uris Hall, G08

The idea of 'village' has been one of the central concepts, and an iconic filmic image of Sri Lankan cinema throughout its history of 71 years. Sri Lankan mainstream Sinhala films utilize the ‘village narrative’ idealizing the village which was seemed to be influenced by the nationalist-religious views and more importantly by colonial thoughts. Even the films that became major trends and movements throughout history could hardly be different in this style and ambition of depicting the village. Rekawa (1956), the first realistic film that paved the way for a new way of producing films, replacing the traditional reliance on studio-specific genre movies, demonstrated the village unrealistically as the ‘village’ created and shaped by the colonials and the Sinhala Buddhist nationalists. It was less critique of the matters of the village, and praised for its beauty and glory. Movies of the 60’s and 70’s, on the other hand, mark the entry of radicalism into the Sri Lankan cinema, however in contrast, portrayed the village comparative to the newly built urban context. All these films present exemplary, but although quite different ways of dealing with the issue of the ‘village concept’. However, the films which became an unexpected attack to this hegemonic view of colonially trained nationalist thought in the 90’s and afterward were not attributed or accepted by the mainstream movie makers or critics as they did not justify this idealized village concept through their work. However throughout history, Sri Lankan cinema establishes a common perpetual dialogue between the concept of ‘village’ and the dominant ideology but on different levels of fictional representation. In view of that, this study analyses the role of film in representing the village. To explore the village representation in films, this study will provide an analysis of few selected groundbreaking movies from the 1940s to the 2000s. It provides a chronological overview of ideas/ideologies about Sri Lankan village in films, analyzing how and why this happened, how such representations were shaped and re-shaped by colonial or nationalist thoughts and its consequences on society.

Athula is an author, translator, documentary filmmaker and film critic. He completed his graduated studies at the University of Pune where he made a documentary film on Indian miniature paintings. He has served as a jury member for many film and television festivals in the country. Currently, he is engaged with the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) in Sri Lanka as a documentary filmmaker, where he works to preserve endangered traditional and indigenous ritual music and dance forms. He served as a producer on national television in Sri Lanka for more than 10 years. Athula is also a lecturer in film and television at the University of Peradeniya.



Event Type



Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Asian Studies, South Asia Program




Free Admission

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Contact Name

Valerie Foster Githinji

Contact Phone

255 8493


Athula Samarakoon

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Available Upon Request

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