Lanka’s ‘Mahamaya’ gets a production boost from Locarno

Lanka’s ‘Mahamaya’ gets a production boost from Locarno

Locarno Film festival’s Open Doors Hub and Lab 2017 winners

Author:  Susitha R. Fernando

Open Doors Lab award, an initiative which centres on emerging producers or filmmakers at Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland was won by Sri Lanka’s Rasitha Jinasena of Sky Entertainers films. Rasith won the development Initiative Film Grant for his film project ‘Mahamaya’ to be directed by Prasanna Jayakody. This award was granted for the first time.

The TorinoFilmLab Award went to Jami Mahmood from Pakistan’s Azadfilms and a Special Mention from Initiative Film went to Jawed Taiman, at Afghanistan’s Tora Bora Media. This year eight selected producers or filmmakers from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka had presented their projects for the award.

The film project ‘Mahamaya’ which is to centre on a single incident exploring the roots of recent conflict in Sri Lanka, will enjoy a six months online follow up analytical reading and potential future partners.

“I am honestly surprised and I never expected this. I learnt a lot from ‘Open lab’ which is enough for me and this is like a bonus,” said Rasitha immediately after it was announced about his selection.

Rasitha’s project was selected following a five-day workshop dedicated to eight emerging producers from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
“I thank you all for being here. I’m sure that the true spirit of Locarno is to share your projects and different experiences,” said Carlo Chatrian, Artistic Director of the Locarno Film Festival at the awarding ceremony.

“I feel the energy you have and that energy is inspiring to all and I am sure you take a bit of Locarno to your respective countries,” he added. “We have been experiencing a very fascinating week, lots of sharing, lot of information and experiences and it was a platform for all the professionals,” described Sophie Bourdon, Open Doors Program Head of Film Festival Locarno.

“And all the people from South Asia has realised that coming here to Switzerland was no bother. It was a different kind of collaboration. Open mindedness and we can have open doors when we have open minded people,” she added.

The awards are financed by Open Doors in collaboration with the City of Bellinzona and the Swiss film production fund Visions Sud Est, with the backing of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

‘We are not in the film business but this questions frequently comes up why we support film project. But one of the brief answers is because we believe that art has an important role in any society in bringing up any societal change,’ said Géraldine Zeuner, Head Team Culture and Development Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation of Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.

“It is basically important to listen to the artists themselves. Why we are partnering is also the question why we are partnering and why filmmakers are producing films. What is the specifica
“What the hub was about this year is Open Doors hub was about supporting filmmakers and producers who have the courage to take up the stories of resistance and individual identity, very often building a personal fight for justice by using imagination and metaphors that help us shape out alternative in our globalised world,” she stressed.

Among the other Sri Lankan winners at the Open Doors were Pradeepan Raveendran who screened his short film and won the award in collaboration with Villa Sträuli and the Locarno Festival.

Meanwhile Dawood Hilmandi’s “Badeszenen” and We Ra’s “One Summer Day” won the biggest awards at the Open Doors at the Locarno Festival.

The film, a magic-realistic tale is produced by Mohamed Husain Naikzad at Bamiyan Film Production and it follows Yoro, a motherless 12-year-old kid who serves his father’s two new wives.

This year’s session was the second in the three-year cycle dedicated by Open Doors to exploring eight countries in Southern Asia: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, Myanmar, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

The prizes, both cash and in the form of tangible assistance, have been awarded to projects and participants in the international platform Open Doors Hub with the aim of supporting their progress after the Festival.

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