‘Paradise’, a reflection on couple relationships with which Prasanna Vithanage returns to the Festival 20 years later


• The Sri Lankan filmmaker, who won the 2004 Silver Lady Harimaguada,  will compete in this 23rd edition’s Official Feature Film Section with a work set at the beginning of his country’s economic crisis in April 2022

• The film will be screened today, April 23, at 6:00 p.m. at Cine Yelmo Las Arenas, where the author will later talk with the audience

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Tuesday, April 23, 2024. Prasanna Vithanage already participated in the Las Palmas de Gran Canaria International Film Festival in 2004, when he won the Silver Lady Harimaguada for his work Ira Madiyama. Twenty years later, the Sri Lankan director has returned to the official competition with Paradise (Sri Lanka, India, 2023, 93 min.), a film that reflects on couple relationships in a convulsive social and economic context. It will be screened this Tuesday evening, April 23, at 6:00 p.m. at Cine Yelmo Las Arenas Screen 6, after which the filmmaker himself will have a talk with audience; and it will also be shown tomorrow, April 24, at 8:15 p.m.

Vithanage’s film is set in April 2022, a time when the citizens of the Asian nation took to the streets to protest the government’s economic mismanagement that resulted in a serious economic crisis. The feature, premiering in Spain as part of the Festival, brings the audience closer to an Indian couple who goes to Sri Lanka on vacation to celebrate their wedding anniversary.  The Ramayana —one of ancient India’s most important works, considered part of the sacred texts— will be very present throughout their vacation, but so will professional matters.

Despite the social and touristic background of the film, which does not go unnoticed, Vithanage claimed that Paradise “doesn’t attempt to talk about Sri Lanka’s economic issues, but about a marriage, the relationship between two people and how it’s necessary to understand oneself and what happens when love is not the basis of a relationship.” In this regard, the director noted that he made this film to look at himself “as a husband.”

“Making cinema is something personal for me, making films gives meaning to my life because I can express feelings. Through my films’ characters I also know myself better,” said this influential filmmaker from South Asia. He is known there, among other things, because his works not only address cultural, social or political issues, but also invite reflection. A way of understanding cinema that does not falter even when his country lacks financial support. “Even when subsidies are bad, you have to do it, shooting films, without thinking,” he pointed out.

Following such principle, he made this film that is now competing in the Official Feature Films Section of the Festival. He shot it in just one month, January 2023, “to minimize cost” due to the 64% inflation suffered by his native country. The title of the work, he admitted, is “an irony” chosen on purpose. “For tourists, Sri Lanka is a paradise, but really, at the time of the film, it was like being in hell,” he explained. In addition, he also made use of mythological elements such as the Ramayana to show “the connections and differences between India and Sri Lanka.”

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