Saturday Magazine
Presidential Film Awards Festival 2004
All that glitters
by Ajith Alahakoon
Pix by Chandrasiri Weerasinghe

On a night that glittered with stars, Geetha Kumarasinghe and Jackson Anthony bagged the awards for Best Actress and Actor, and Mille Soya the top awards for Best Film and Best Director.

The fifteenth Presidential Film Awards Festival was held after a lapse of four years at the BMICH on Wednesday. Chief guest at the occasion was President Chandrika Kumaratunga while Dr. Lester James Pieris and his wife, Sumithra Pieris were the guests of honour.

Among the numerous artistes present, Ministers Mahinda Yapa Abeywardene, Sarath Amunugama, Mangala Samaraweera, and Jeevan Kumaranatunga were present.

In addition to the awards, a total of rupees twenty five lakhs in prize money was given out.

Minister Mangala Samaraweera gave away Vishvakeerthi Awards to eight artistes. Benet Ratnayake (Aswesuma), Asoka Handagama (Me Mage Sadai), Nithyavani Kandaswami (Punchi Suranganavi), Anoma Jinandari (Thani Thatuven Piyabanna), Inoka Sathyangani (Sulang Kirilla), Damitha Abeyratne (Sulang Kirilla), Prasanna Vithanage (Ira Mediyama) and Nimmi Harasgama (Ira Mediyama) received these awards.

Director of Me Mage Sadai (This is my moon) and Thani Thatuven Piyabanna (Flying with one wing), Asoka Handagama, was not present at the ceremony to receive his award and prize money of rupees one hundred and fifty thousand, but sent a letter to the president that was read out to the audience. In it, Handagama thanked the president for the award and said that he had been invited for the event only on the previous evening. Furthermore, he said he was not participating on a matter of policy. Twenty two years ago on this day, Handagama said, Tamil prisoners Kuttamani and Thangadorai were killed in prison. Handagama also said that he respected the president for signing the PTOMS agreement. He bequeathed the prize money to the Jaffna Public Library.

Shelton Premaratne (music), G. D. L. Perera (camera) Udula Dabare (acting) and Anula Karunatilleke (acting) received special awards for their contribution to Sri Lankan cinema.

For receiving the most widespread response from the public, Surya Arana producer Renuka Balasuriya received an award presented by Minister Jeevan Kumaranatunga.

Surya Arana bagged ten awards including Best Singer, Best Songs, and Best Scriptwriter. Vimukthi Jayasundara bagged a gold medal and one million rupees in prize money for receiving the Camera d’Or award at the Cannes Film Festival, Sri Lankan cinema’s highest international film award to date.

The awards ceremony was organised by the National Film Corporation.


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