In welcoming Mr Dharmasena Pathiraja to Malaysia, KELAB SENI FILEM MALAYSIA is proud to present --
Dharmasena Pathiraja Retrospective: A Rebel with a Cause
Introducing the works of the Sri Lankan filmmaker who initiated a cinema of social engagement
Saturday 5 September 2009
10.30am – One League of Sky (120 mins)
1.30pm – Ponmani (98 mins )
4.00pm – The Wasps are Here (140 mins)
7.00pm – On the Run (100 mins)
Followed by discussion at 8.45pm with Dharmasena Pathiraja, moderated by Hassan Muthalib & Zakir Husain Raju
Venue: HELP University College, Pusat Bandar Damansara, KL
Admission by membership: RM60 for 1 year (students RM30); RM40 for 6 mths; RM30 for 4 mths; RM10 per screening or RM20 for the day. Free admission for Alliance Francaise members & HELP students.
Dharmasena Pathiraja is a ‘rebel with a cause’ who emerged in the late 1960s intent on creating a new cinema that ‘proposed a counter-discourse to the bourgeois artistic cinema and the formulaic popular cinema of the time’. He is regarded as the leader of the ‘second revolution’ in Sri Lankan filmmaking, the first having been initiated by Lester James Peries in 1956.
Born in 1943, Pathiraja graduated from the University of Ceylon with a degree in Sinhala and Western Classical Culture and later obtained a PhD in Bengali cinema from Monash University.
He learnt the language of cinema from Peries and others, but he also recognized their socio-political limitations in a country which was heading for a period of deep turmoil. He also studied the cinema of radical activists like Jean-Luc Godard, Third Cinema filmmakers like Fernando Solanas and Glauber Rocha, and Asians like Mrinal Sen and Ritwik Ghatak.
In Pathiraja’s films, visual, narrative and ideological motifs intertwine in a complex and fascinating manner. He is a filmmaker who moved away from bourgeois idealism in favour of a socially engaged and critically humanist cinema – a path taken later by a younger generation of directors like Prasanna Vithanage and Asoka Handagama, the leaders of Sri Lanka’s third cinematic revolution.
One League of Sky (Ahas Gauwa; 1974)
Three flatmates frequent the post office to look for job vacancies in the locak gazette. Bandu is lucky when he gets both a job and wins over the beautiful clerk Vijitha. Wije and Gune however struggle to make ends meet. Having befriended some criminals, they turn to smuggling and touting contraband goods for a living. They sink deeper into crime when friendship and family ties become strained.
Pathiraja’s only film in Tamil is set in the northern city of Jaffna. Ponmani, the youngest daughter of the family, has to wait until the marriage of the middle daughter Saraoia before she can escape her dreary life. An evocative film about land, women, romance and tragedy, Ponmani brings out the texture of life in Jaffna, a bustling commercial hub before the devastation wreaked by the separatist struggle.
The Wasps are Here (Bambaru Avith; 1978)
When the dealer of a fishing village falls ill, his son Victor takes over the business. His eye soon falls on Helen, who responds to his advances, much to the consternation of her suitor Cyril. On the business front, Victor has to contend with Anta. When Cyril is found dead, Anta gathers his cronies and turns the village against Victor. Sri Lanka Presidential Award 1997 for being named one of ten best films in 50 years of Sri Lankan cinema.
On the Run (Para Dige; 1980)
Based on an original short story by Ajith Thilaksena, this film is about a city girl who is pregnant by a repossessor of mortgaged cars. Having left traditional village life behind, the pair have no wish to be tied down and they look for money to pay for an abortion. With only 400 rupees more to go, he attempts to make some quick money by gambling…