Controversy over a Sri Lankan movie screened at the French Film Festival led to the Board of Management of the S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike National Memorial Foundation, suspending the Film Festival with immediate effect on Saturday 13 July.
Meanwhile, responding to the suspension of the Film Festival, the Embassy of France said the movie ‘Flying Fish’ had been chosen, due to its international recognition in festivals in Asia and in France. It also stated that it had received the certifications authorizing the screening of all the movies from the Public Performances Board.
“The French Film Festival has been organized by the Embassy of France between 18 June and 14 July, with the support of the Ministry of Culture and the Arts, the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall and many others partners and sponsors. This Festival provides opportunities for artistes from the two countries to perform on a common stage and or to share mutual experience. The conditions put to the screening of ‘Flying Fish,’ such as its one-time only presentation to a selected invited audience without children have been respected. On 13 July, the Embassy of France had been informed by the Board of Management of the S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike National Memorial Foundation of its decision to suspend the French Film Festival on ‘account of the contents of and the sentiments contained in the Sinhala film ‘Flying Fish,’ the Embassy said in a statement, adding that it regrets the unfortunate incident and the embarrassment to the general public and to the French Spring partners and sponsors.
“The aim of the Spring Festival Cultural Festival is to strengthen the friendly relations between France and Sri Lanka and in no way harms any part of the Sri Lanka diverse society,” it further stated.
State media launch a Whichhunt ( state media report)
Public outrage over ‘Flying Fish’ content leads to suspension of French Film Festival Chamikara WEERASINGHE What appears to be an “Objectionable body of content” in the local Sinhala film, “Igilena Maaluwo” is now under investigation by local authorities and the Criminal Investigation Department. National Film Corporation Chairman Asoka Serasinghe yesterday said that the director and the owner of the movie, “Igilena Maaluwo” (“Flying Fish”), have been asked to stop the screening of the movie in all national and international festivals. He said, Igilena Maaluwo, consequent to its screening at the French Film Festival that was recently held at the BMICH, Colombo, came under fire by the public who objected to its content and the storyline. The Defense Ministry has been apprised about this, said Serasinghe.
The agitated viewers demanded that the film, which was certified as suitable for screening by the Public Performance Board, be banned from being screened at the BMICH saying that it has hurt their sentiments. Taking into consideration the hurt sentiments expressed by the public over the film, which centres around the character of a local soldier, the The Board of Management of the Bandaranaike National Memorial Foundation decided to stop the film from being screened at the premise and , suspended the French Film Festival following this incident. The festival was organized by the French Embassy with the support of the Ministry of Culture and Arts, BMICH and other sponsors.
The Foundation’s Board said in statement issued by them, “The French Film Festival organized by the French Embassy and the Alliance Francaise de Kotte at the BMICH has been suspended by the Board of Management of the Bandaranaike National Memorial Foundation with immediate effect on account of the content of and the sentiments contained in the Sinhala film, “Igilena Maluwao” ( Flying Fish) which however was certified as suitable for screening by the Public Performance Board, and screened on the 11th July in Commitee Room B of the BMICH” says the BMICH”.
“The Board of Management apologizes to the general public and the heroic armed forces of Sri Lanka who liberated our people from the murderous scourge of terrorism for permitting such a film to be screened in their premises. They did so entirely on the basis of the certification for screening awarded to this film by the Public Performance Board. They also assumed that foreign organizers of such events will always respect and honour the social, historical and cultural sensitivities of the people of the host country,” the statement read.