Sri Lankan movie at Geneva film festival

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By 2017-03-19

By A.B Pereira

The Davena Vihagun (aka Burning Birds) written and directed by Sanjeewa Pushpakumara has been nominated for the best film at the 15th International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights in Geneva (FIFDH). The film will be competing for the award with another 7 films including Academy (Oscar) and Golden Globe awards winning 'Moonlight'. The festival will be held from 10 to 19 March. The Swiss premiere of the film will be on 12th March.

Meanwhile, The Davena Vihagun (aka Burning Birds) is also nominated for best film at the 27th African Asian Latin American Film Festival. The festival will take place from 19 to 27 March in Milano. The Davena Vihagun (aka Burning Birds) film was previously invited to be featured at the 46th International Film Festival in Rotterdam, where the film won many hearts and minds of both the public and critics. The film ranked 17 out of 175 films officially selected. Parallel to the Rotterdam festival, The Davena Vihagun was also nominated for the prestigious Ingmar Bergman Award at the 40th Göteborg International Film Festival in Sweden.

Burning Birds world premiered at the 21st Busan International Film Festival in South Korea last October, where the film was nominated for Best Film. Though the film did not win the award, it won the hearts of critics and audience. Last November Davena Vihagun ( Burning Birds) won the Special Jury Prize (the second prize) at the 17th Tokyo FILMeX International Film Festival in Japan.

Burning Birds is Sanjeewa's second film followed by his controversial Flying Fish ( Igillena Maluwo). The film is a co-production between Sri Lanka, France, The Netherlands and Doha Qatar. Burning Birds film project was selected for the 2012- 2013, 25th Cinéfondation Residence Programe of the Cannes Film Festival in France. Following this, the script was sent to the Jerusalem International Film Lab in 2014 for advanced script development. During this seven month period, Sanjeewa developed the script.

At the lab he worked with one the of world's most renowned script advisers Mr. Jacques Akchoti (France).

Burning Birds was produced by Antonin Dedet and Dominique Welinski (France) on behalf of Neon Production and Sanjeewa Pushpakumara appeared on behalf of Sapushpa Expressions ( Sri Lanka).

The International sales agent of Burning Birds is Film Republic in London.

The cast includes Mahendra Perera , Samanalee Fonseka, Anoma Janadari , Chandani Senavirathne ,L‍eonie Kotalawala, Pubudu Chathuranga, Priyanka Samaraweera,Dasun Pathirana, Tissa Bandaranayaka, Shyam Fernando, Dharshan Dharmaraj , Sanjeewa Dissanayake ,Dharmapriya Dias.

The technical crew for the movie was Kalinga Deshapriya (Cinematographer), Ajith Ramanayake and Katharina Wartena (Editors), Priyantha Dissanayaka (Make-up), Piyathissa Akurambada (Art director) , Ajantha Alahakoon (Costume Designer), Nicolas D'halluin and Aruna Priyantha Kaluarchchi (Sound Engineers), Elie Akoka (Colour grading), Aruna Thilakarathne (Assistant Director) , Niroshan Edirimanna (Second Assistant Director) and Harald Karunathilaka (Production Manager).

Filmmaker Sanjeewa Pushpakumara

Sanjeewa Pushpakumara (born May 5, 1977) is a film director, writer, and producer. He was born and grew up in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka and completed his Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura in 2005. In 2008, he obtained his Master's degree in Mass Communications from the University of Kelaniya. From 2005 to 2006, Pushpakumara pursued a diploma in filmmaking from Sri Lanka's National Film Corporation, where he graduated at the top of his class.

Pushpakumara began his career as a presenter for an FM radio channel. Unhappy in this job, he left soon after to become a freelance newspaper journalist writing about film, drama, and other cultural events for the newspaper 'Ravaya', considered to be a pioneer in alternative journalism in Sri Lanka. Meanwhile, he became a television presenter, scriptwriter, and producer for the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation and Sirasa TV

In 2007, Pushpakumara received a scholarship from the Korean Culture and Tourism Ministry under its Cultural Partnership Initiative (CPI), to study film-making in the Asian Young Film Forum and also to learn the Korean language at Chonbuk National University (Korea). In 2009, he again underwent training in the Asian Film Academy as part of the Busan International Film Festival. Pushpakumara is currently completing an advanced degree in film-making at Chung-Ang University in South Korea, under the Korean government scholarship program.

Pushpakumara's first feature film, Flying Fish (Igillena Maluwo), received a grant from the Hubert Bals Fund of the International Film Festival Rotterdam (Huub Bals) to support its post-production costs. The film was subsequently honored with a nomination for the festival's Tiger Award for new directors. Based on the director's own life experiences, the film reflects the deep social and psychological trauma of the country's twenty-six-year-long civil war.

Pushpakumara has through time been praised by many. It was said by Tony Rayns at the 5th Cinema Digital Seoul Film Festival that "Sri Lankan Cinema has found its true modernist" and he has also said that "Flying Fish (Igillena Maluwo) is indecently beautiful" in one of his much read reviews.

In 2011 Sanjeewa was invited to Paris by the Cannes Film Festival to it's 25th Résidence Programme of Cinéfondation to develop his 2nd feature film Burning Birds( Working title) .

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