The Moscow International Film Festival (MIFF) is one of the two oldest international film festivals in the world and this year, the prestigious film festival is being held for the 44th year. Marking a historic milestone in Sri Lankan cinema, after 39 years, a Sri Lankan representation is making its presence at the MIFF in the competitive division. The movie which brought this honour to Sri Lanka is Aruna Jayawardana’s Maariya. All preparations are made to hold the international film festival in this August and the first official screening of Maariya will also be held in the MIFF. Maariya is Jayawardana’s third cinematic creation. His first movie Nikini Wessa (2013) was also an internationally-acclaimed movie bagging multiple local and international awards and accolades. The last time a Jayawardana movie was screened was in 2022 with the movie Happy Birthday. His movie 1970 Love Story is also ready to hit the cinemas.
Maariya is based on a true story, experienced by a group of Indonesian fishermen. Despite its foreign origins, Marariya was completely filmed in Sri Lanka and even more uniquely, the movie doesn’t contain a single female character.
The first movie to represent Sri Lanka in MIFF was the 1977 Dharmasena Pathiraja classic, Eya Den Loku Lamayek for which the lead actress Malani Fonseka was awarded a diploma certificate. Following that in 1978 Pathiraja’s Bambaru Awith as well as Lester James Peries’ Yuganthaya (1983) also have represented Sri Lanka in the competitive division of MIFF.
Mahendra Perera, Hemal Ranasinghe, Ashan Dias, Darshan Dharmaraj, Dasun Pathirana, Priyantha Sirikumara, and Surath Dasanayake contribute in acting department for Maariya while Channa Desapriya, Dilantha Perera, Asanka Wickramasiri, Mclane Striner Adams, and Daminda madawala contribute in cinematography, editing, colour mixing, assistant cinematography, and assistant direction respectively. Music direction is by Chinthaka Jayakodi while art direction is by Sunil Premarathne. Makeup, sound mixing, and production management is by Priyanka Rathnayake, Sashika Ruwan Marasinghe, Gihan Perera respectively while Indrajith Silva is the producer of Maariya for D & D Films.
(Translated by SH)
By Anton J. Fernando