sujewa films nyc

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I might be the first, and the second

That is, the first "Sri Lankan-American" or US filmmaker from a Sri Lankan background to make & release/screen a feature length fiction film in America. I screened my feature comedy Wild Diner (an '05 review of the film by Amir Motlagh here, and there's also a Washington Post article & a City Paper review from '99 out there) for a week in DC in mid-'99, followed by several one night only screenings in several venues during the following months.

According to this Wikipedia entry, immigration from Sri Lanka to the US did not happen to any significant degree until the mid-'70's. Even now the number of Sri Lankans/Sri Lankan-Americans in the US is relatively small I think (i am not sure what it is, probably not even half a million, probably not even a quarter of a million). Out of that small group only a few have pursued careers in the arts & entertainment, let alone filmmaking, as far as I know.

Recently I finished a one week run & the 20th screening of my second fiction feature, Date Number One (2006), in the US (screened so far in NYC, Seattle, DC, & a couple of MD cities). DNO might be the second US fiction feature made by a director from a Sri Lankan background (and in my case, actually from Sri Lanka, I immigrated in the mid-'80's, as a young teen), after Wild Diner. Soon/hopefully in early August the DVD of DNO will be available (and at some point in the near future Wild Diner & other earlier works will be available on DVD also - not sure if anyone really wants to see that stuff, but it'll be available :). Anyway, I have not heard of any other US based filmmakers with a Sri Lankan background making and or releasing fiction features. Ever. Never in the relatively brief (compared to the 2,000+ years old Sri Lanka) history of the US.

So, it is quite possible that I am number 1 or 2, or at the worst in the top 5 for "filmmakers from a Sri Lankan background who made & released/screened a fiction feature in America" :) A little obscure factoid for us to break out in like maybe 50 years or so :) Maybe sooner.

Of course the "1st widely/Hollywood level released fiction feature by a US filmmaker/director from a Sri Lankan background" title is not claimed yet. I guess something for me to work towards, possibly :)

- Sujewa

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