Must-Watch Sri Lankan Short Films

We recently wrote about Sri Lankans who have made it in theaters and the silver screen in the US and the UK. Here at home, Sri Lankans have been making short art-house films for quite a while. Some are spectacular and have received international acclaim while a fair number are lacking in terms of acting and post-production (and some directors go crazy with the special effects). However, from the short films we have sat through all day while doing our ‘research’, we can safely say that most have a decent plot. Of the short films we watched, we’ve compiled a list of a few that you might enjoy.

HTM directed by Sachi Ediriweera (2015)

Starting off with the latest, Sri Lanka’s young and amazingly talented Sachi Ediriweera, released a new short earlier this year. Titled HTM, the silent short film is funny, intense and heartwarming – all these emotions evoked in a little under 11 minutes.

Actors include the star from his last short film Wildlings Within, Yashodha Suriyapperuma, well-known stage actor, Domic Keller, and Marissa Jansz.

Wildlings Within directed by Sachi Ediriweera (2014)

Just last year Sachi Ediriweera released Wildlings Within, a fantasy based 11-minute short film that won acclaim at the Clujshorts Film Festival in Romania. What struck us the most was the cinematography – everything from the subtle glow, the location and camera angles – one word comes to mind, beautiful.

The cinematography, however, doesn’t overshadow the equally good plot which is a bit gut-wrenching, but not all films have a happy ending.

Starring in Wildlings Within are Yashodha Suriyapperuma and stage actor and director Ruvin de Silva.

Ciao – Directed by Ilham Hossen (2012)

Back to immigration being a favourite theme, Ilham Hossen presented Ciao, a story of two men, in what could be a trawler, headed to Italy. The men, complete strangers and who appear to be poles apart are brought together with one purpose – the search for a better life off the shores of Sri Lanka.

In those 16 minutes, you spend weeks in the boat as you watch the men go from being hopeful, to apprehensive, to losing their minds and finally accepting the possibility of death.

Ciao has won two awards since, Best Film Italian Sri Lankan Film Festival 2012, and Best Film Derana Lux Film Awards 2012, and was screened at the 8th Seattle South Asian Film Festival 2013.

Hue directed by Thiwanka Mihiran

We’re not sure if Hue has received awards, but this 4-minute film is rather riveting. In a time when racism rears its ugly head in Sri Lanka, Hue certainly promotes love. Of course, plot aside, this short film must recognised for its brilliant cinematography. We absolutely loved the scene at the beginning where the old man appears from the tall grass. A definite must watch.

Elephant by Odyssey

Image courtesy

Unfortunately, we don’t have a link to share. According to director Rehan Mudannayake we can expect a screening later this year, so that’s something to look forward to.

So why should we be looking forward to watching this short film? Because it looks extremely promising. With actors such as Ruvin de Silva and Jehan Mendis, and writer Ashok Ferry, you know this film has potential. Rehan’s website provides a quick summary stating, “Elephant is a harrowing drama about the Colombo elite in Sri Lanka. It deals with the challenges of living in a bubble where it is near-impossible to lead one’s life without prying into it. The film follows an upper class family in the city, negatively affected by a  lack of anonymity”.

While just a few minutes long, short films are probably equally difficult (if not more) to make than a full-length feature film. To be able to send the view on an emotional rollercoaster or prompt them to mull over a concept or idea, in a few short minutes; while relying on different elements such as the script, acting, camera angles, lighting, sound and great editing, takes much effort. We feel the four short films we have shared, have successfully brought these elements together within 11 minutes or less, creating touching, inspiring or thought provoking films. Sri Lanka undoubtedly has an abundance of talent and creativity, and as young filmmakers venture into short-filmmaking, we hope to see more wonderful productions that will draw in international awards.

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