While reading Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novella “The Meek One” over and over again, two thoughts kept coming back to me. One was Dostyevsky’s piercing understanding of masculinity and second was his posing of moral questions to human relationships. I adapted this novella to the most important issue facing Sri Lanka – the wounds of a thirty year long bloody ethnic conflict. The confrontation of a Sinhala man and a Tamilian woman became the dramatic premise of my script. Their struggle with their own past for me was a metaphor for the struggles of the nation as a whole.
Born in 1962, Prasanna Vithanage, directed his first film ‘Sisila Gini Gani'(Ice of Fire) in 1992. It won nine OCIC Awards (Sri Lanka) including Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress. Four years later in 1996 he wrote and directed his second film’Anantha Rathriya’ (Dark Night of the Soul). Based on Leo Tolstoy’s last novel ‘Resurrection’, the film won a Jury’s Special Mention at the First Pusan International Film Festival and went on to win all the main awards at the 1996 Sri Lanka Film Critics Forum Awards (affiliated with FIPRESCI) including awards for Most Outstanding Film, Best Director and Best Screenwriter.
‘Pawuru Walalu’ (Walls Within), his third feature in 1997 won the Best Actress Award at the 1998 Singapore International Film Festival. It even won ten out of eleven awards including Best Picture and Best Director at the Sri Lanka Film Critics Forum Awards. His fourth feature ‘Purahanda Kaluwara’ (Death on a Full Moon Day) , 1997, which he wrote and directed won the Grand Prix at the Amiens Film Festival. It is one of the most successful film in the more than half a century history of cinema in Sri Lanka. Prasanna Vithanage completed ‘Ira Madiyama’ (August Sun) his fifth film in 2003. It went on to win many international awards and was featured prominently in the world festival circuit. In 2007, Vithanage co-produced the hit film ‘Machan’ a comedy about a group of working class con artists posing as a handball team, directed by ‘The Full Monty’ producer Uberto Pasolini. ‘Machan’ premiered at the 65th Venice Film Festival in 2008. 2008 also saw the world premiere of Prasanna Vithanage’s sixth feature film as director, ‘Akasa Kusum’ (Flowers of the Sky) in Pusan, Korea. The film has been screened in over thirty festivals to wide acclaim winning numerous international awards.
Vithanage’s film work stands at the intersection of violence, gender and social injustice. ‘Oba Nathuwa Oba Ekka’ (With You, Without You) is his seventh feature.