Two Sinhala films are being screened this month on British Terrestrial Television marking an important landmark for Sri Lankan cinema.
Ira Madiyama (August Sun) was shown on Channel 4 on November 11 and Thani Tatuwen Piyabanna (Flying with One wing) will be aired on November 17.
`This is significant as it had been a long time since a Sinhala film has been shown on British TV,` commented Saroj Pathirana, a Sri Lankan journalist at BBC, adding that they will be aired late night.
Ira Madiyama is directed by Prasanna Vithanage, produced by Soma Edirisinghe and released in 2003. Its cast include Peter D`Almeida, Nimmi Harasgama, Mohamed Rahfiulla and Namal Jayasighe.
A Channel 4 summary about the film reads: `An atmosphere of fear and latent violence pervades this powerful film by one of Sri Lanka`s leading directors, Prasanna Vithanage. Set in the claustrophobic climate of the Sri Lankan civil war, August Sun follows three disparate families` experiences of loss.`
It comments that the film is a, `A political yet subtle observation of the destructive nature of conflict, August Sun is an intelligent exploration of the emotional, mental and physical struggle for survival the dispossessed are forced to make in circumstances beyond their control.`
The controversial Thani Tatuwen Piyabanna was directed by Asoka Handagama and released in 2002. It was produced by the Be-positive Media Group. Its cast includes Anoma Janadari, Gayani Sudharshani, Mahendra Perera and W. Jayasiri.
Channel 4 describes the film as a `bold, revolutionary film` that had been recently screened at The London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. `Surrounded by controversy on its release, Sri Lankan censors insisted Handagama cut several sequences before they would allow the film`s release. The director refused to dilute his vision and it is this version Channel 4 screens tonight,` it says.
`A brave, moving love story, Flying With One Wing portrays a harsh, misogynistic world, sunk in outdated attitudes and traditions, where women have little voice,` the synopsis states. `Against this backdrop, Manju is a transgender woman who works as a car mechanic in the macho culture of a garage, where she keeps up the pretence of being a man. At home, too, Manju hides `his` true intimacyuality from his wife.
`However, following an accident, a doctor finds out the mechanic`s secret and becomes obsessed with Manju. Rejected, the doctor takes a cruel revenge, revealing the truth to Manju`s chauvinistic employer and sparking off a chain of events that sets friends, family and an entire community against the unfortunate woman.`