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Buddhist film festival in May

Vesak is the most important festival for Buddhists, commemorating the Birth, Enlightenment and Parinibbana of Gautama Buddha.

Sri Lanka has been celebrating this festival on the grandest scale like no other country. It is, therefore, it is calling for the eyes of the world to turn towards Sri Lanka, during the festival month of May, to showcase, not only the magnificent celebrations, but also, the treasure trove of Buddhism, which can benefit so many worldwide.

Light of Asia Foundation and the National Film Corporation of Sri Lanka have therefore, undertaken to organise a unique spectacle, as part of a greater national endeavour, to organise a more integrated Vesak in 2009.

To be held at the BMICH from 9- 12 May 2009, this event will not only consist of an International Film Festival and Workshops on Buddhism, but also a Pandal, Cultural Dances, Art Exhibition, Sale of Arts and Craft, Vegetarian Food Stalls and a unique water fountain shaped as a dagoba.

The end product will be a “must see must visit” spectacle for every one of the expected 300,000 people walking along Bauddhaloka Mawatha each day during the Vesak Festival.

Vesak 2009 – Buddhist Film Festival will attract the imagination of the general public for more reasons than one:
The Mobile Short Film Competition encourages the general public to submit homemade Short Films on Buddhist Themes, using their mobile phone camera. This will catch the attention of the general public from the initial stages, as they consider participating themselves, and subsequently, have their film showcased to millions during the Vesak Festival.

Further, the seven best local and seven best international Short Films submitted for the Short Film Competition will be showcased on Television over the Vesak week, during a 1 hour special programme on Vesak 2009 – Buddhist Film Festival. The Audience Award for the Best Short Film will be awarded after counting SMS votes from the audience.

The Awards Ceremony Closing Gala will be telecast, and some of the well known Film Stars, Directors and Producers in Sri Lanka, as well as monks and leading figures in Buddhist circles will be invited. The organisers also intend inviting several internationally renowned figures in the Buddhist and Film Making arena.

The organisers are working to arrange packages including special residential meditation programmes and guided tours of important monuments around Sri Lanka for international participants to the event. Further, special tour and accommodation packages will be organised by the Tourist Board for tourists who visit Sri Lanka in May. All of this is with the aim of encouraging international participation for Vesak 2009.

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‘Plien Air’ Heritage

By Lakna Paranamanna
‘En Plien Air’ means ‘in the open air’. It is a fascinating form of art and, if done by a skilful hand, can bring out the wonders of nature onto a canvas through just brushes and paints. This form of art is very challenging and not easily mastered. Although the technique was practised by artists for many generations, its popularity rose during the mid 19th century, in the light of Impressionism.

Also, working in natural light gained popularity with the introduction of paints in tubes, making colours easier to obtain than before, since the previous methods involved a tedious process of making one’s own paints by mixing dry pigment powders with linseed oil.

‘Plien Air Heritage’, an exhibition of such open air drawings was held at the Lionel Wendt last week, featuring many ventures of the painter and his wonderful talents. The Nation met this talented artist, Ifthikar Cader, the man behind the lovely works of art, to talk of his life as a painter.

“I have been painting since childhood, but until 1994, there was nothing professional in my approach. I was a businessman. So, it was only after retirement that I thought of taking up painting professionally,” said Cader. He is a self taught painter, drawing inspiration to learn through studying various paintings and by reading material on the subject. Cader’s favourite local painters are Justin Deraniyagala and David Paynter and admires the work of Richard Schmid of the international artists, for his wonderful skills with the brush and colours.

In 1996, Cader had his maiden exhibition. “I was really surprised at the response! More than 10 paintings were sold, despite being my very first attempt at public exposure,” said Cader. Successively he had held many other exhibitions quickly followed in 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2001.

Cader’s favourite medium is oil paints. “It is the traditional medium of painting and the most widely used. I enjoy the feel and the comfort of painting with oil paints,” said Cader, explaining his bias for oil paints. “Even though it is one of the most widely used mediums, to master the art of skilfully using it in paintings is the height of challenge.”

At the exhibition, the accent was on local sights and scenes, ranging from the Kandy Lake to the sparkling blue coastline decked with leaning coconut palms, to tanks amidst the ruins of Anuradhapura. “The main reason I like doing landscape paintings is because I enjoy working outdoors. This is also a very challenging form of art, since the scenery needs to be worked on for many days, to surface its natural effect,” remarked Cader. The most outstanding feature in this master craftsman’s paintings is that they are alive. The water bodies seem to ripple in the sunlight, a gentle breeze seems to waft out of the scene and even the tiny moss on the rocks gleam with life.

“I specially enjoy painting in the southern coastal areas such as Hikkaduwa, Galle and Weligama, because the natural light there is ideal for my paintings.”

Cader seemed overwhelmed by the response he received this time.
“After some time, I felt quite embarrassed by the appreciation and the admiration,” he said laughing and was thrilled with the outcome. “Every minute of my life is valuable to me and am determined not to waste a single minute. I wish to spend it painting,” he concluded.

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