Sri Lankan Entry: "Ira Mediyama" (August Sun)

in 18th Fribourg International Film Festival

by Ashley Ratnavibhushana

The film revolves around the narratives which unfold simultaneously. During the scorching days in August, three different groups of people face different experiences due to circumstances beyond their control. These are ordinary people thrown into the war. The experiences they encounter may not be directly related to the conflict. These events, like the weather, govern their lives. Yet they have to continue beyond these encounters to exist in a society that is traumatized and disturbed by nearly twenty years of civil war between the majority Sinhala government forces and the rebel movement from the minority Tamil community who are fighting for autonomy and self-determination.

An eleven year old Muslim boy, Arfath, is struggling to keep his companion and friend, a dog, while the family are forced out of their home by the rebels. Chamari, a young woman is looking for her husband who is a air force pilot missing in a action. A young soldier Duminda walks into a brothel, finds his sister among the working girls. The events in “August Sun” take place on the day Sri Lanka became the Champion of 1996 in the Asian Cricket Cup Finals played in Singapore.

Their experiences are in the main not the stuff of great drama and excitement. Ordinary lives can be boring, they are boring, sometimes brutally so. There are no great victories (like Sri Lanka Cricket Team) to be celebrated, no trophies to be won. Rather, as in the film, these people are victorious in the more important sense of a quiet, sometimes unseen transcendence of day-to-day tragedies which help reclaim and proclaim their human spirit, more often than not, just in the privacy of their own hearts and not in any public arena.

Vithanage has taken a risk with the three stories in one film, and also telling stories of ordinary so-called boring lives. And also he has taken a far more risk by using a non-professional cast.