The controversial Sri Lankan film Forsaken Land by Vimukthi Jayasundara was named the best film in the Harvest of Talents competition at the World Film Festival of Bangkok.
"The film features unique cinematography. Its powerful imagery portrays the life of ordinary people in an atmosphere of fear," French film critic Nadine Tarbouriech, one of the festival’s five jury members, was quoted as saying in The Nation.
Set in Sri Lanka, the story centers on a family living in a desolate, sand-blown area where there is no fighting, but also no peace. The decades of living on the edge have taken their toll, and while others have fled the area, the family - a man and his young wife and the man's sister - have hung on, but are left without any will or morals of their own.
Vimukthi was present for the awards ceremony, as well as a Q&A session after on of the screenings of his film. He explained it was his own viewpoint of how the civil war has affected his country. Though it was made with cooperation of the military, when the film was completed and shown in Sri Lanka, the reactions were negative. The film was banned and Vimukthi now lives in Paris.
"Thank you so much for this award. It is important for me as I have a lot of trouble in my country," Jayasundara said in his acceptance speech. "I'm pleased because many people think that I made this film for Westerners. As an Asian, I always make films for my country and for Asians. This award from Thailand proves at least that I made this film for Asians."
Other awards in the festival's competition:
- Artistic direction - 4, directed by Ilya Khrzhanovsky.
- Best script - Days of Santiago, written and directed by Josue Mendez.
- Jury Award - Turn Left at the End of the World, directed by Avi Nesher.
- People's Choice Award - Grand Voyage, directed by Ismael Ferroukhi
(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)