A felicitation ceremony to celebrate 50th anniversary of the artistic life of the veteran film director Dr. Dharmasena Pathiraja who rendered a significant service to the progress of Sri Lankan cinema, was held yesterday (June 26) at the Tharangani Hall in National Film Corporation. President Maithripala Sirisena attended the ceremony.
The government’s Information Department organized this felicitation ceremony under the theme “Pathi is Fifty – Felicitation of Dharmasena Pathiraja’s Creations”.
Dr. Dharmasena Pathiraja, who made an outstanding contribution to the Sri Lankan cinema in the 70th decade, is also a senior Lecturer in Media Studies.
He graduated from the University of Peradeniya with an honours degree and completed his post-graduate studies in drama at University of Peradeniya.
He also obtained a PhD in Bengali cinema from Monash University in Australia.
Dr. Pathiraja served at the University of Ruhuna, Sripali Mandapaya and University of Colombo as a senior lecturer.
Dr. Pathiraja made a short 10-minute film titled Saturo in 1970. His full-length feature film Ahas Gauwa followed four years later. It was critically well-received, sweeping the FCJAC Awards by winning the awards for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor and winning the Office Catholique Internationale Du Cinema (Sri Lanka) awards for Best Film and Best Director.
1975’s Eya Dan Loku Lamayek was Sri Lanka’s entry at the 9th Moscow International Film Festival, winning a Special Award for Female Performance in 1976 and the Special award from the Peace Council of the USSR, It was screened at the 18th Venice Film Festival in Bergamo, Italy in 1975.
1978’s Bambaru Avith is widely considered Pathiraja’s masterpiece. That year it represented Sri Lanka at the 10th Moscow International Film Festival and was screened at the Venice and Los Angeles Film Festivals. In Sri Lanka it received the awards for Best Director and Best Film at the first Presidential Film Awards and the OCIC Awards. In 1997 a special council selected to celebrate 50 years of Sri Lankan Cinema named it the fourth best Sri Lankan film of all-time.
Later that year, Pathiraja made the Tamil film Ponmani shown at the International Film Festival in India. 1980 saw the filming of Para Dige which was shown some time later at UCLA in the Third World Cinema Program and in France and Melbourne.
1981’s Soldadu Unnahe was Pathiraja’s last film for 13 years. It was Sri Lanka’s entry to the 8th International Film Festival of India and was awarded Best Film, Best Director and best Script at the third Presidential Film Awards and Best Director and Best Film at the OCIC Awards. OCIC named it the best Sri Lankan film of the 1980 –1990 period in 1990.
1994’s Wasuli was a relatively minor film. In 2001 Pathiraja returned on a bigger scale with Mathu Yam Dawasa shown at the Singapore International Film Festival and the 4th Osian’s Cinefan Festival of Asian and Arab Cinema held in New Delhi.
Dr. Pathiraja who was awarded with many local and international awards, was also awarded with Swarnasinha award for his service rendered to the Sri Lankan cinema. The Swarnasinha Award is bestowed to a person only one time in his life.
President Sirisena presented an honorary award to Dr. Pathiraja at this event.
Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, Ministers Rajitha Senarathne, Gayantha Karunathilaka, Deputy Minister Karunarathne Paranawithana, Director General of the Government Information Department Ranga Kalansuriya were among those participated in this occasion.