Screened as part of NZIFF 2006
Tropical paradise conceals purgatory in this haunting, pressingly sensual picture of life in the backwaters of a long war. With only a handful of characters and the scarred beauty of the Sri Lankan landscape at his disposal, first-time director Vimukthi Jayasundara creates a vision of a country perpetually reeling from horror. His film unfolds in a series of interwoven set pieces during which little of narrative consequence seems to happen, as men and women cling to life through casual sex, petty cruelties and small acts of humanity. The 2005 Cannes Camera d’Or jury (headed by Abbas Kiarostami) awarded this uncompromising, visionary work the Best First Film Prize.
“Jayasundara’s adventurous début is a French co-production, meaning the issue of sectarian violence in Sri Lanka assumes the form of an art film, though many of the modernist tropes he employs help to transmit the devastation of Sri Lankan life caused by the two-decades-long civil war. But just be prepared for art of the highest calibre – lay back and let the film wash over you like a waking dream.” — Mark Peranson, Globe & Mail