Presidential Film Awards 2023 makes grand comeback after 3-year hiatus
PMD: President Ranil Wickremesinghe has underscored the imperative for Sri Lankan cinema to attain global acclaim. In dedicated pursuit of this objective, the government is proactively engaged in the comprehensive restructuring of the National Film Corporation and all its affiliated institutions to seamlessly integrate with cutting-edge technologies.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe conveyed these sentiments during his attendance at the Presidential Film Awards 2023, held at the Nelum Pokuna Theatre in Colombo two days ago (14).
The President also articulated plans to institute a Public Entertainment Diversification Board in lieu of the Public Performance Board. He underscored the importance of eliminating the term ‘censorship’ from artistic creation.
The President highlighted the current challenge faced by artists, as artistic creations fall under various criminal laws. To address this issue, he proposed a program wherein films and television productions would be submitted to the Classification Board before enforcement. President Ranil Wickremesinghe expressed the government’s expectation to implement these measures starting next year. This year’s Presidential Film Awards ceremony holds special importance as it marks a return after a 3 year hiatus.
Out of 42 films screened in 2019 and 2020, a total of 44 awards were bestowed upon actors and technicians. These awards were traditionally bestowed upon individuals meticulously selected by a jury comprising expert film critics and seven honorary doctors and professors. Furthermore, nine additional awards were presented during the ceremony, adding to the prestige of the occasion.
During the event, Dr. Nanda Malani was honored as the Best Playback Singer of 2020. Marking a distinctive moment when President Ranil Wickremesinghe went to the audience where Dr. Nanda Malani was seated to present her with the award for Best Playback Singer of 2020. This gesture added a special touch to the event, highlighting the President’s direct involvement in recognizing and honoring outstanding contributions to the field of cinema.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe, addressing the audience, acknowledged Dr. Nanda Malani’s significant achievement of receiving an award for her background singing in Sri Lankan cinema at the Sarasavi Film Award in 1963. The President also shared that he had the privilege of participating in that event.
Emphasizing Dr. Nanda Malani’s noteworthy contributions, the President conveyed that she rightfully deserves the respect and gratitude of the entire nation for her valuable contributions to both the Sri Lankan cinema and music industry.
In recognition of exceptional contributions to cinema, a “Yuga Abhimani” special award was conferred upon Mr. K. Gunaratnam. President Ranil Wickremesinghe commemorated Mr. Gunaratnam during the ceremony. Additionally, the President presented “Swarnasingha” awards to distinguished individuals, namely Mr. Chandran Ratnam, Suvineetha Weerasinghe, and Cyril Wickramage, further adding to the prestige of the occasion.
The President conferred prestigious awards on notable individuals in the cinematic realm. In recognition of their outstanding performances, Mr. Kamal Addararachchi was honored as the Best Actor of 2019, and Mr. Kumara Thirimadura received the Best Actor award for 2020. Likewise, Ms. Samadhi Laksiri was recognized as the Best Actress of 2019 and Ms. Neeta Fernando received the Best Actress award for 2020, both presented by the President.
Acknowledging excellence in direction, Mr. Anuruddha Jayasinghe was awarded the Best Director for the year 2019, while Mr. Vishakesa Chandrasekharam received the Best Director award for 2020, both bestowed upon them by the President.
The film industry also celebrated outstanding cinematic creations, with the Best Film of 2019 titled “Ginnen Upan Seethala” and the Best Film of 2020 titled “The Newspaper,” both receiving accolades from the President.
The President further stated that:
“In my youth, as a student aged 12-13, I had the privilege of participating in the inaugural Sarasavi Film Awards ceremony. Similarly, I had the honor of attending the inaugural Presidential Film Awards ceremony. The disparity between those times and the contemporary era is substantial, marked notably by a significant technological revolution.
Presently, the landscape includes both cinema and television, formerly distinct entities that have seamlessly converged. The advent of mobile technology has further transformed how we consume content, with the ability to watch movies on portable devices. This connectivity has fostered a global cohesion in the realm of international cinema, turning it into a thriving industry. It is imperative that we progress harmoniously with this evolving industry. I hold a firm belief in the prowess of our film makers to navigate and excel in the competitive arena. Consequently, we must reconsider our perspectives and diligently prepare the nation’s cinema for a transformative journey ahead.
In our focus on the reorganization of the National Film Corporation, it is essential to recognize the film industry and television media as integral components of a unified industry. Concurrently, comprehensive development initiatives are imperative for all cinema halls and film production locations.
To streamline and provide efficient support, the government is actively consolidating these activities under a singular board. Beyond financial backing, a strategic program is in progress to bring globally renowned individuals to Sri Lanka, offering invaluable opportunities for artists, directors, and technicians to acquire international expertise.
Furthermore, proactive measures are anticipated Performance Board control. The existing Public Performance Board Act, with over a century in force, will be replaced by the establishment of a distinguished Entertainment Classification Board, marking a pivotal step towards modernization and efficiency in this sector.
The elimination of the term “censorship” from artworks is imperative. Presently, artworks are subjected to diverse criminal laws, causing challenges for artists. It is crucial to reassess and adapt to contemporary needs, acknowledging that adhering strictly to outdated regulations is untenable. To address this, a comprehensive program is underway, envisioning the submission of films and television products to the classification board as a preliminary step. These proposed regulations are anticipated to be presented next year. The collective support of all, irrespective of political affiliations, is sought, emphasizing the program’s significance for the future prosperity of the film industry”.
The event was graced by the presence of distinguished guests, including Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, Ministers Dr. Bandula Gunawardena, Mahinda Amaraweera, President’s Counsel Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, Keheliya Rambukwella, State Ministers Shantha Bandara, Lasantha Alagiyawanna, Members of Parliament Wajira Abeywardena, Gayantha Karunathilaka, and Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera (Retired). Notable figures involved in parliamentary affairs, such as Presidential Adviser Ashu Marasinghe and Defense Ministry Secretary General Kamal Gunaratne (Retired), were also present, Media Ministry Secretary Anusha Palpita, National Film Corporation Chairman Deepal Chandraratne, Army Commander Major General Vikum Liyanage, several other heads of security departments, government officials, veteran film actors and esteemed film directors.