Vimukthi, speaking to the minds of the people
WHEN Vimukthi Jayasundara was a little child, his parents took him to
a cinema. He heard only sounds - didn't see anything.
"I disturbed my mother continuously saying that I cannot see anything
and asking her about the movie. I saw only the white screen. Again I
disturbed my mother - then she told me that I am too small and when I
grow old - I would clearly see the movie," Vimukthi recalled.
Vimukthi Jayasundara with his Camera d’Or for Best First Film
But last Saturday, Vimukthi witnessed it happening clearly and
happily in a packed audience of cinema veterans and young stars while
the whole world was applauding his maiden cinematic creation.
Vimukthi's first feature film Sulanga enu Pinisa - La Teree Abondonce
(Forsaken Land) won the Camera d'Or for Best First Film last Saturday at
the 58th edition of the Cannes International Film Festival on the French
Vimukthi explained that cinema is a kind of science.
"Its an art which goes beyond all other art media. You cannot compare
cinema with other forms of art," Vimukthi told me in an interview prior
to his departure to France to participate at the Cannes Film festival.
During the interview, he did not boast about his film but rather
spoke about the opportunities, events and persons that led him to this
significant milestone in his cinematic career.
Vimukthi's first feature film Sulanga enu Pinisa competed for the Pix
de la Camera d'Or awarded to the best first feature film presented in
one of the Cannes selection categories.
The unique feature of Vimukthi's achievement is that this was the
first time that a Sri Lankan film was selected for this category titled
'Un Certain Regard'. Earlier, veteran film maker and doyen of local
cinema Dr. Lester James Peries' Rekhawa had been selected for the main
Vimukthi explained that 'Un Certain Regard' was created in 1978 to
absorb several festival sidebars and it is the main showcase of the
His film focuses on a timeframe where there is neither war nor peace.
Set in the Sri Lankan location, it sheds light on this timeframe and
lives of the people.
"This is a very unique situation where there is no war and no peace
also. There is a timeframe and I got hold of this time factor. There are
various characters and they seems to be frozen in one moment. That's
where my theme lies," says Vimukthi adding that Sri Lanka's present
situation was very much unique in the world context.
"In fact, I had a long cherished dream to make a movie focusing on
the timefactor and to portray the relationship between the man and the
time," says Vimukthi stressing this context is suitable for any artiste.
Vimukthi says in his films he always speaks to the minds of the
people and expressions should be made as feelings.
The film was shot in Kalptiya last year. The cast comprises Mahendra
Perera, Kaushalya Fernando, Hemasiri Liyange, Nilupuli Jayawardena,
Saumya Liyange and Sapurni Peiris. Director of photography is Channa
Deshapriya while the script is also by Vimukthi.
The doors for creating this film was opened to Vimukthi after his
short film 'Empty of Love' which was selected to the Cannes Festival
(2002) from the Students category. That film did not contain any
dialogue but only sound and was shot in two countries (Sri Lanka and
He noted that this gave a real boost and exposure which helped him to
draw producers. "Also, my professor at the Film School Tasi ming Ling
also encouraged me to go ahead with a feature film. He always discussed
with me the plot selected by me."
His love for cinema began long years ago while he was a small child.
"My parents used to take me for films and specially my father liked to
watch science fiction and horror films. From that time onwards, I was
keen to study the film medium." Born and bred in Galle, Vimukthi came to
Colombo and started writing film reviews for newspapers and also joined
the advertising field.
Later, he went into pursue film studies in India. On his return to
Sri Lanka (1998 - 99) Vimukthi joined the Government Film Unit and
directed a short film in black and white which was a documentary.
He presented that film for a film festival in France and the head of
the Le Fresnog School (National Studio of Contemporary Arts) who was
satisfied with this film provided an opportunity for Vimukthi to further
study film in France. "So, that's how I went to France and made this
Vimukthi says his school assisted him to complete the film. "They
provided me facilities amounting to millions of rupees and that really
helped my creation."
Vimukthi says he was proud to make this film within a few months of
leaving the film school and also being selected for the Cannes festival.
Vimukthi received the 'Fonds Sud Cinema' grant from the French
Government for this first feature film project Sulanga enu Pinisa. Since
its creation, 'Fonds Sud Cinema' has helped more than 300 film projects
around the world.