Book Review
First complete biography of Lester James Peries
by Ashley Ratnavibhushana
President, Asian Film Centre
Board Member, Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema

The Asian Film Centre, Sri Lanka is privileged to announce the publication of the first complete biography of Lester James Peries, one of the greatest film makers of Asia and of the World. The book’s author, the late Prof. A. J. Gunawardene, was a close friend of LPJ and collaborated with him as the scriptwriter of three of the film maker’s well-known films — Beddegama (Village in the Jungle), Kaliyugaya (The Age of Kali) and Yuganthaya (End of an Era). Prof. Gunawardene began researching and writing this biography of Lester James Peries in the early 1990’s. His intention was to enhance the narrative with his own insights, analyses and assessments of the film maker’s work. Sadly he passed away in 1998 before he could complete this labour of love.

However, the manuscript, which was in the possession of Dr. Lester James Peries proved to be a treasure chest of Prof. A. J. Gunawardene’s singular writing style as it shone through to illuminate the heart and mind of his esteemed subject.

Dr. Peries passed the manuscript over to the Asian Film Centre who has now brought it up to date with his latest film Ammawarune.

The biography comprehensively covers LJP’s life from his childhood in colonial Ceylon, through the post-war years in London where he worked as a journalist and then an experimental film maker, and takes us through his nearly 56 years of film making in Sri Lanka right up to his new film.

An introduction has been included in the form of a detailed and comprehensive assessment of the work and influence of LJP by the respected and widely published academic in the field of the cinema and cultural studies, Prof. Wimal Dissanayake.

The publishers have also added a complete filmography and a bio-data section, plus an Index and many archival photographs, which make this biography a worthy tribute to both the writer and his subject.

The Asian Film Center (AFC) was founded in 1991 to enhance and enrich film culture in Sri Lanka and to expand the appreciation of film as a culturally relevant art form among all sections of the population. The AFC actively pursues a policy of developing a viable world film culture in Sri Lanka with a special focus on Asia. It plays a unique leading role in film education and training, film appreciation, hosting foreign film festivals and promotion of Sri Lankan films worldwide.

Profiling Sri Lankan Cinema, published in 2000, co-authored by Wimal Dissanayake and Ashley Ratnavibhushana, was an introductory essay aimed at the non-specialist and general readers written with a deep acquaintance with contemporary film theories. It focused very concisely on the growth of Sri Lankan Cinema, and on mapping its high points and dominant trends, with discussions on the more important film makers. The Tamil translation of the same book was published in 2001.

AFC is affiliated to the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC) an internationally recognised organisation for the promotion of Asian Cinema.


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