Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Questions sent to Mrs. Clinton's campaign re: her recent comments about the LTTE

I blogged about this item previously (the link is in the question below), and here is the follow-up, my questions to Hillary Clinton's campaign (sent through their website) re: her recent comments re: the terrorist group LTTE:


My questions are re: Mrs. Clinton's recent comment re: the terrorist group the LTTE in Sri Lanka (made at a Guardian Unlimited interview, I blogged about it here:

The questions:

1 - Does Mrs. Clinton know about the nature of the LTTE (the fact that they are clearly a terrorist group & have been banned in many countries, etc.)?

2. If elected President, does Mrs. Clinton plan on removing the LTTE from the list of terrorist groups banned by the US government?

Thank you.

- Sujewa Ekanayake"

Looing forward to Mrs. Clinton's or the campaign's response.

- Sujewa

Is Hillary Clinton fine with suicide bombing, use of child soldiers & blowing up heads of state ???!!!!????

Is the possible next president of the US suggesting that the ruthless terrorist group LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) in Sri Lanka need a more nuanced second look from the US government, even though the LTTE have been banned in the US since 1997 and they have assasinated the Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and have killed thousands of people in Sri Lanka - including Tamils; the minority that the LTTE claims to be fighting for? Very strange, do not know much about this yet, maybe I'll have to contact the Clinton campaign to figure out all the details re: her statement. But, in the meantime, here is the original statement from the Guardian Unlimited article:

"(Guardian Unlimited) Yeah. Do you think that the terrorists hate us for our freedoms, or do you think they have specific geopolitical objectives?

(Hillary Clinton) Well, I believe that terrorism is a tool that has been utilized throughout history to achieve certain objectives. Some have been ideological, others territorial. There are personality-driven terroristic objectives. The bottom line is, you can't lump all terrorists together. And I think we've got to do a much better job of clarifying what are the motivations, the raisons d'être of terrorists. I mean, what the Tamil Tigers are fighting for in Sri Lanka, or the Basque separatists in Spain, or the insurgents in al-Anbar province may only be connected by tactics. They may not share all that much in terms of what is the philosophical or ideological underpinning. And I think one of our mistakes has been painting with such a broad brush, which has not been particularly helpful in understanding what it is we were up against when it comes to those who pursue terrorism for whichever ends they're seeking."

Also, here is a perspective on Clinton's statement from the Daily Mirror, in an article by author Neville Ladduwahetty:

"The fundamental premise of Mrs. Clinton is that if an entity such as the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) sets itself a well-motivated goal, the nature of the tactics used to achieve that goal should not matter. Accepting such a premise would mean that the LTTE cannot be faulted for engaging child soldiers in war, nor could they be faulted for committing genocide, or for using civilians as human shields. Its use of suicide bombers, chemicals and every other means to achieve its goals under cover of the sanctity or loftiness of its goals would be equally acceptable. This premise postulates that terrorism used as a tactic in the pursuit of a goal is inconsequential, provided the motivations for that goal are worthy."

Well, strange events indeed. Hopefully Clinton is not soft on terrorism, specially against the LTTE - one of the most ruthless & dangerous terrorist outfits in the world. To say that the LTTE's tactics do not invalidate their goals or their very existence is similar to saying that it may have been acceptable for Al-Qaida to blow up the World Trade Center, depending on that terror group's ultimate objective (which, to me, is insane thinking). I think that a group's method of attempting to achieve an objective definitely has an effect or should be considered by others when judging the validity of the group's overall mission. Is it cool to kill civilians, including women & children, and carry out ethnic cleansing campaigns (driving out muslims & sinhalese from LTTE controlled areas), forcibly recruit children for a guerrilla army, & assassinate heads of state, scholars & even elected politicians from your own ethnic group in order to create a separate country for just those people who will quietly obey all your commands? I do not think so. Looking forward to finding out more details about what Clinton thinks about the LTTE.

- Sujewa

Can anyone identify this sci-fi monster movie?

An early 30-something years old friend of mine who grew up in Argentina said he saw the following bit of a sci-fi horror movie (American or European - originally in English, could also be Canadian or Australian too) on TV one night when he was a kid, got scared, turned off the movie part way through - and now, as an adult in America, he's been asking people if they've ever seen this movie & if they can name it, but so far no luck, so here's the description, let me know if you know what the title of this movie is;

the movie is about a third eye type thing in the brain that can be activated by some sort of a device. a man is driving & thinks about an event that happened in a house; two people put on the third eye device & then they are able to see previously invisible creatures floating around. one of the creatures - a giant fish like creature - looks at one of the guys, then swoops down & bites the dude's head off, the man dies.

OK, let me know if you know the title of the movie that contains those scenes. thanx, & happy holloween!

- sujewa

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Beautiful fall day, 10/30 update on all things

I luv the fall. Specially when it is not rainy or not too cold.

For a quick update on all projects, go here.

Enjoy the day, get out & get some sun & do nothing for a while, if u live in the DC area.

- Sujewa

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Darryl from The Office

One of my favorite characters from the NBC show The Office is Darryl, the warehouse manager. Here is a recent interview with Craig Robinson, who plays Darryl, at Houston Press blogs.

- Sujewa

Ed Burns's latest feature Purple Violets will be available through iTunes

Get all the info. on this development at this New York Times article.

Thanks Filmmaker Magazine blog for the info.

Unlike some too-cool indie filmmakers/fans, I've always liked Burns's movies to some degree or another (yes, including Looking For Kitty). Will check out Violets, through iTunes or most likely through DVD or cable when it gets to those formats - looking forward to it.

Find out more about Purple Violets here.

And here's the iTunes movies page.

- Sujewa

Friday, October 26, 2007

Kurt Cobain About A Son opens in DC on Fri 10/26 :: Great review of pic at Washington Post

About A Son plays at E Street Cinema starting tomorrow, get all the info. here at the official blog for the flick.

Here's the post w/ the link to the very positive Washington Post review of the film.

Go see this ultra-creative doc about the Nirvana singer by the maker of the They Might Be Giants doc Gigantic.

- Sujewa

2 down 298 to go OR I expect it to take about 5 years to complete all 6 of the 50 short films series

Dimensional Portal, short film # 1 in the 50 Short Films About America series, is done. Also Rock Collection, short film # 1 in the 50 Short Films About Kensington series, is shot & is awaiting some titles in order to be complete. So, 2 down basically, and 298 to go; there are 6 series of short films planned with 50 films per series (find out more about this project here) totaling 300 short films in all. I expect the entire project to take about 5 years (it could happen a lot faster, but let's just say 5 years for now) or until the end of 2012 to complete.

I am digging this gigantic short films project because some shorts can be made literally for $0 (or you can spend some money on them & make them extra fancy) and you are able to explore new things, try new (or at least new-to-you) filmmaking approaches through shorts (not a lot of money tied in shorts, also they are not as "serious" as features, as far as your overall filmmaking resume is concerned - thus more room to play & have fun). These shorts projects are a side project, something for me to do - filmmaking wise - while I get features made & out (or wait for a big chunk of free time in order to finish a feature DVD project, as is the case this week).

I expect to have the two completed shorts up on YouTube & posted here at this blog before this week is over (before Sun, perhaps for some Sun morning web shorts watching event for ya :).

- Sujewa

Monday, October 22, 2007

50 Short Films About Kensington & Related Projects

I started a new short films project, read about it at the Wild Diner Films blog.

- Sujewa

Warhol's World at Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, NY 10/20-11/11/07

Read all about it here.

Thanks GreenCine Daily for the link.

- Sujewa

Mindy Kaling interview at Radar Online :: Kaling's blog

Was kind of under the weather this weekend, took it easy, home & in bed pretty much the whole weekend, watched a lot of The Office; good show to watch when you are not feeling too well :) No, really, there is hope for Hollywood/mainstream TV when it/them can turn out a pretty decent show like The Office. So, to show my appreciation, here is some Office related blogging.

Mindy Kaling (Kelly Kapoor in The Office) interview at Radar Online.

Also, Kaling blogs here (as Mindy Ephron).

- Sujewa

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Made a short called Dimensional Portal

Read about it at the Wild Diner Films blog.

- Sujewa

Confessions of a film festival judge

This week's Washington City Paper has an article in which a judge of the DC Shorts film festival tells us about his experience. Here is the first paragraph from the article:

"When I tell people I judged films for this year’s DC Shorts Film Festival, their first reaction is, “Cool!” Their second reaction is more circumspect. I don’t own a television. Or any movies. Why was I qualified to judge?"

Read the rest here. Lots of inside-film-festival entertainment for those who may be into that kinda thing.

- Sujewa

Friday, October 19, 2007

Videomaker blog

Lots of videomaking tech news, tips at the Videomaker blog.

- Sujewa

Why Did I Get Married? sounds a little like The Celebration or The Big Chill

Tyler Perry's film Why Did I Get Married? sounds a tiny bit like the Dogme 95 film The Celebration or the Lawrence Kasdan film The Big Chill.

From the Variety review of the flick:

"At a fateful dinner party, the camera circling ominously, Angela, outraged that Mike has brought along his mistress (Denise Boutte), triggers an avalanche of aggressive secret-telling that leads to disaster."

From Armond White's review at the New York Press:

"He convenes a group of thirtysomething professionals, psychologist and relationship expert Patricia (Janet Jackson) and her friends: criminal attorney Dianne (Sharon Leal), esthetician Angie (Tasha Smith) and plus-sized housewife Sheila (Jill Scott). They rent a winter cabin in Pemberton, Colo., for a weekend marriage retreat with their husbands,..."

Might be interesting. Here's the official website for the movie. Playing in lots of theaters now.

- Sujewa

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Next 2 Weeks

a few time consuming things to do over the next 2 weeks, not too exciting, check out the brief version of the list here. be back around 11/1 (unless "something film related that must be blogged about" comes my way).

for Burma stuff & other non-film stuff check out the Year 200007 blog. there are a couple of things that i need to post there in the coming days.

- Sujewa

laffs enducing surreal signs

check one out here.

and then explore the site for more.


- sujewa

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

First Lady vs. Burmese junta; Washington Post article

Nice to see Laura Bush taking an interest in the situation in Burma.

Here's the first paragraph of a long Post article re: the First Lady's work on behalf of the Burmese people:

"It's a long way from the broad expanse of Texas to the lush forests of Burma, from the boots-and-broncos rodeo in nearby Waco to the bloody crackdown against barefoot monks in Rangoon. Yet that troubled faraway land somehow has gotten under the skin of a former librarian from the Lone Star State and vaulted toward the top of the U.S. foreign policy agenda."

Read the rest here.

- Sujewa

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Onion on new indie film Far Above The Jiffy Lube, The Stars of Phoenix Shine

Read about the new independent movie by a dependent 27 year old, at The Onion.

Thanks GreenCine Daily for the link :)

Also check out Filmmaker Mag blog re: the Onion article.

- Sujewa

3 new blogs by 2 minority lady filmmakers

Found these today, looks interesting & promising, check 'em out:

Can We Make A Movie With You?

Art House Queen

Sun In Libra, Moon In Taurus

- Sujewa

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Jarmusch short Int. Trailer. Night

On YouTube.

Buy the film Ten Minutes Older, which contains Int. Trailer. Night & other short films by different directors, here.

Jarmusch talks a bit about the short in this GreenCine interview.

- Sujewa

Friday, October 12, 2007

Darjeeling OK :: CNN article mentions Anderson's duck-hunting boots

Saw Darjeeling Limited. Nice to look at; nice images of India, the train looks cool, some of the music & shots looked good together, and there are some very sad moments in the movie. The banter between the brothers was amusing at times. Darjeeling was OK, I liked it more than I liked Life Aquatic. I'll probably check it out again on DVD.


From a 10/11 CCN article re: Anderson:

"Anderson, the middle of three brothers, grew up in Houston. At the University of Texas he met Owen Wilson, who was at first put off by Anderson's eccentric getup of duck-hunting boots and shorts."

Check out the full article here.

- Sujewa

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Francesco Uboldi's Burma films: On the Road to Bagan, The Burmese Fable, Waiting

Filmmaker Francesco Uboldi has several Burma related projects. Here are brief descriptions & links:

On the Road to Bagan

"On the road that leads from from Mount Popa to Bagan – the main tourist site in a country, Myanmar, which only recently has opened its borders to visitors – a farmer speaks of his everyday toils. Listening to his words, gradually the account throws light on the wider social and political situation in former Burma. The country has been subject to a ferocious military dictatorship since 1962."


The Burmese Fable (in production)

"A journey into the Golden Land, the charming country of thousands pagodas, among monasteries, temples, and a deep, archaic spirituality. Villages scattered among rice fields, mounted in between rivers, lakes, and mountains. Simple lives, smiling faces, an unreal quietness.

And a journey underneath the surface of this rural paradise, beyond the appearance of political propaganda. The military regime, the social instability, the political repressions, the human rights violations."The Burmese Fable" is a story halfway between a travel documentary and a political film, mixing genres in an attempt to unveil these two sides of Myanmar. Which is not only, nor primarily, an enchanting tourist destination. Most eloquently this is told by first-hand accounts, such as those, recently collected, of Ka Hsaw Wa, victim of government abuses in the first place, then fugitive for years, hidden in the jungle, and finally today worldwide-known human rights monitor and activist for the Burmese democratic cause."



"Burma: thirty seconds, one face, decades of abuses."

Sounds like good movies to check out for anyone interested in Burma, human rights, struggles for democracy, & developing world issues.

- Sujewa

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Is this year 2007 or 200,007?

This National Geographic article from '05 says we (humans) are somewhere around 200,000 years old - the species, as "modern" humans. 200,000 years is a very long time. What exactly happened on Earth; what kinds of interesting things did humans do in various cities, villages & caves & who knows where else, during all that time? Assembling a comprehensive history of the species might be a cool thing to do (i think i feel a new blog coming on :). So I would have to say this is both year 2,007 according to the modern calendar, and also year 200,007 in the number of years (more or less, maybe give or take a few thousand years? :) that the species has been alive & kicking; year 200,007 in the age of the "modern" human. The mind, as they say, boggles.

UPDATE: Check out my new blog Year 200,007.

- Sujewa

Undercover in Rangoon

Latest from the BBC, a report on Burma post-crackdowns. Here is a bit:

" The government is also trying to play down the scale of the protests and the ensuing crackdown, saying they were the result of a few "destructive elements" fomented with the help of outside broadcasters such as the BBC Burmese Service and Voice of America.

But I did not meet anyone in Rangoon who actually believed this. The people I spoke to said unanimously that the protest marches were part of a popular movement borne out of grinding poverty, and that most of those who took part were not active members of pro-democracy or opposition groups - they were just monks and ordinary civilians."

Read the rest here.

- Sujewa

Monday, October 08, 2007

Saw Finishing the Game, excellent movie, it kicks (well, you know)

Saw the Justin Lin mockumentary Finishing the Game tonight through IFC In Theaters, had a great time. The movie feels pretty much like a documentary that may have been made in the 70's (complete with fake sponsor credits). I do not think a lot of reviewers & critics get this movie (see many of the lukewarm at best critical responses at the recent GreenCine Daily round up of Game reviews), but I certainly had a great time watching the process of finding a replacement for Bruce Lee play out in all its 70's production design/Asian-American issues/70's identity & other politics filled glory. I am looking forward to checking Game out again at some point soon. There was a little bit of sadness and also a heart warming quality mixed in with the low key humor and 70's re-creation in Game. Sweet.

And now, the link to the Cinematical review of Finishing the Game (i think they liked it as much as i did). Here is a little bit:

"The high points of the film are sidesplitting, however, like Breeze Loo's aforementioned Fists of Fuehrer film, Eloise's repeated insistence that one of the contenders could be "the Asian Gene Hackman," the shtick where Tarrick claims he's half-Chinese, and some pitiful attempts at kung fu."

You can check out Finishing the Game at IFC Center in NYC or on yer cable TV through IFC In Theaters now.

- Sujewa

Notes from candle light vigil for Burma :: DIY film lessons for activism :: Impossibilities and indie film

Notes from the candle light vigil for Burma

I got to the International Buddhist Center (which is primarily a Sri Lankan Buddhist temple) in Wheaton, MD around 6:30 PM tonight, with about 50 candles in hand. I was not sure about how many people may show up to the event. By 7 PM there were about 60 - 75 people at the temple; Sri Lankans/Sri Lankan-Americans, Burmese/Burmese-Americans, & other Americans - mostly Sri Lankans in the crowd - ready for the candle light vigil. The head monk at the temple, Bhante Uparatana, introduced the event. Brief speeches about the situation in Burma and in praise of activism that celebrates & supports the Burmese pro-democracy movement were given by a lay (non-monastic) staff member from the IBC and also by Dr. Sein Win, Prime Minister of the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB). The 7 or so Buddhist monks present chanted, candles were lit, it was a beautiful & moving sight & experience. In closing the event I said a few words and thanked everyone who came out for the vigil. People donated money at the event (I had a donation box there for USBC - US Campaign for Burma), and we hung out after the official ceremony and made some new friends (a big hello goes out to Aung Kyaw & his wife, and also to everyone else I met tonight), talked about the situation in Burma. Mr. Tin M. Thaw, a board member of USCB, was at the event, I handed over the donations to him (a huge thanks goes to everyone who donated money). All in all it was a very positive evening. One of no doubt hundreds or however many that are necessary/that will keep happening until democracy reigns in Burma. Thanks goes to, once again, everyone who made this event a success.

DIY film lessons for activism

Organizing the candle light vigil for Burma was not a difficult task for me since I had organized & produced over 50 DIY film screenings over the last few years. A venue was needed (in film a movie theater, in this political/religious event a Buddhist temple), co-organizers were needed to get the word out about the event (i worked with USCB & NCGUB & the head monk at the ICB for this event), fliers were needed as they would be for a DIY film screening (and since I have experience creating fliers - due to the many I've produced for screenings, it was very easy for me to put together a good flier for the event), and essential tools had to be delivered to the event location (a donation box, candles, fliers). Plus, the confidence or I guess the experience needed to call anyone relevant up, to call strangers, and enlist them in some form in your project, was gained by having to call up theater bookers, potential volunteers, press, etc. for screenings over the years. So, the skills that are required to produce a DIY screening can also be used for producing events of possibly greater use to the world; such as a candle light vigil & a fund-raising event for a group of people struggling for democracy.

Impossibilities and indie film

Maybe it is because I have been concerned, and dealing with, on a daily basis with the many low budget film/indie film production & distribution obstacles for so long that, at this point not many things - not even the removal of a brutal military dictatorship from power through political activism - seems like a thing that is totally outside the realm of possibilities (surely much work by many is needed, but it does seem possible). Even if I am wrong, just feeling that difficult things are not impossible to accomplish is, I think, overall a positive & useful thing - a gift from engaging in indie filmmaking I think. Also, I have hope re: the Burma situation because far more vicious & deeply entrenched oppressive systems were removed or completely changed in the past due to a combination of political & economic activism, including non-violent protests led by religious leaders. Here I speak of the end of apartheid in South Africa, end of segregation in the US, fall of the Berlin wall, and, to some degree, the collapse of the Soviet Union. Who knows how things will go in Burma, but the Burmese over there & elsewhere in the world seem deeply committed to their cause, and it feels to me like that they will prevail. Maybe that's just my indie filmmaking experience fueled optimism speaking, maybe it is just wild hope, but I do think that pro-democracy groups will come to power in Burma relatively soon. You never know how a real indie film might turn out or that if it will even get finished, but you commit to the process and get the work done, and often, later if not sooner, there are good results - I see the same happening now with the pro-democracy movement for Burma; people are deeply committed and they are getting the work done.

- Sujewa

Friday, October 05, 2007

About A Son theatrical action; NYC & LA now, soon elsewhere

Check this page out for theatrical opening dates for About A Son, AJ Schnack's wildly creative documentary about Nirvana singer Kurt Cobain.

Don't wait for the DVD, see this movie in a movie theater, where you can get lost in the images & sounds & think about things in the dark.

Even though the movie is about a world famous rock star, it is definitely a real indie movie, and probably should receive lots of awards for the very creative way it deals with its subject.

Check it out! I'll see it again when it opens in DC later this month.

- Sujewa

Candle Light Vigil for Burma - Sun 10/7, Intl. Buddhist Center, Wheaton, MD

Candle Light Vigil for the people of Burma (Myanmar)
in support of their peaceful struggle for democracy

Sunday October 7, 2007 :: 7 PM

International Buddhist Center
2600 Elmont Street (see map & directions below)
Wheaton, MD 20902
phone: 301-946-9437
media contact: Bhante K. Uparatana, 240-460-6385,

An opportunity to show your solidarity with & appreciation for the work of the Buddhist monks & other pro-democracy activists & ordinary people hungry for freedom in Burma.

Additional Information

In Burma (Myanmar) a non-violent pro-democracy movement is working to end the misrule of the country for the past 15 years by military dictators. In the last few weeks, various protests, Buddhist monk led marches and other actions gained international attention due to the size of the number of people involved. The Burmese military junta violently cracked down on the peaceful protesters, beating many, also shooting and killing an unknown number of protesters. Thousands are imprisoned at the moment, with their fates unknown to friends and family. However, the movement for democracy in Burma continues, within that nation and throughout the rest of the world. The 10/7/07 candle light vigil at the International Buddhist Center in Wheaton is an opportunity to celebrate the non-violent protesters and their bravery, and to show our solidarity with the valiant struggle currently being undertaken by the Burmese people.

And in order to further support the Burmese movement for democracy, it will be possible, for those who wish to do so, to donate money to the non-profit US Campaign for Burma at the vigil event. Here is a little bit about USCB:

"The United States Campaign for Burma is a U.S.-based membership organization dedicated to empowering grassroots activists around the world to bring about an end to the military dictatorship in Burma. Through public education, leadership development initiatives, conferences, and advocacy campaigns at local, national and international levels, USCB works to empower Americans and Burmese dissidents-in-exile to promote freedom, democracy, and human rights in Burma and raise awareness about the egregious human rights violations committed by Burma’s military regime."
To donate directly to US Campaign for Burma, go here:
US Campaign for Burma contact information: Phone: (202) 234 8022, Fax: (202) 234 8044

Thank you. Hope to see you at the event.

- Sujewa Ekanayake
One of the event organizers,


Directions to the event venue:

The International Buddhist Center
2600 Elmont Street
Silver Spring MD 20902

phone: 301 946 9437

METRO & walking
Nearest Metro station is Wheaton
Walking directions from Wheaton metro station to the International Buddhist Center:
Come up to Georgia Ave, go North on Georgia Ave (past Dunkin Donuts & other shops, towards University Blvd/away from the Georgia Ave & Veirs Mill intersection)
walk past University Blvd
Left on Blueridge Ave.,
Right on Grandview Ave.,
IBC is at intersection of Grandview and Elmont

If you are coming from Baltimore take 95 South to 495 west (Silver Spring),
take Georgia Avenue North Exit
go North Georgia Avenue towards Wheaton Plaza
pass University Blvd. (193) Junction.
Make a left at the next color light. (Arcola Ave.)
Make an immediate left to Grandview Ave. (One way street)
IBC is at the junction of Elmont Street and Grandview Ave.
If you are coming from Virginia take 495 East to Silver Spring,
take Georgia Avenue North Exit
go North Georgia Avenue towards Wheaton Plaza
pass University Blvd. (193) Junction.
Make a left at the next color light. (Arcola Ave.)
Make an immediate left to Grandview Ave(One way street)
IBC is at the junction of Elmont Street and Grandview Ave.


video link for US Senate hearing on Burma's Saffron Revolution

Go to this page and click on Burma's Saffron Revolution link to see the video of the Wed 10/3 US Senate hearing on the recent pro-democracy protests in Burma (Myanmar). Good stuff. The Senators were very motivated & interested, looks like there will be some very targeted & useful financial/banking restrictions crashing down on the junta, plus many other useful things to come - quite possibly. Check out the hearing here.

- Sujewa

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The mythical king Ravana was apparently a real ruler in ancient Sri Lanka :: Ancient rock inscriptions translated

One of the elements of the founding mythology of the Sinhalese in Sri Lanka always bothered me; that was that when Prince Vijaya (the founder of the Sinhala people/race & Sri Lankan civilization according to the ancient chronicle Mahavansa) came to Sri Lanka he encountered various groups of people already living there, people with trappings of civilization, but then the story of Prince Vijaya moves on, just focusing on what his dynasty and kings after them did in Sri Lanka, without looking at who these other people - the Yaksas - that Vijaya encountered were. Looks like a new book provides the answer to the question of who those people were.

I received the '07 published book The Lost Dynasty: Uncovering Sri Lanka's Secret Past in the mail today, and the book is an intoxicating feast of historical material, amazing new interpretations, and beautiful photographs. Anyone familiar with ancient Indian mythology will have heard of the Ramayana; an epic poem that tells the story of the Indian King Rama rescuing his queen Sita from a powerful king named Ravana in Sri Lanka. The author of Lost Dynasty, Nishantha Gunawardena, presents images of ancient inscriptions (some only recently discovered, after the December 2004 tsunami) and their translations, some of which indicate that Ravana was a real, flesh and blood, not-only-in-myths, king of Sri Lanka who was descended from the Harappan civilization.

Here is a little bit from the book, from page 227 - 228:

"I translated the first portion of the inscription. "Under the order of His Eminence Ravana the son of His Eminence Visharava this boundary is marked and the lake is presented to the Priesthood." The inscription also mentions Ravana's grandson Agiya and Thejasha along with his brother Kuvera."

The inscription was made using "the earliest Brahami alphabet", a script that can trace its roots back to the Harappan civilization (c. 2500 BCE) and forward to Sinhala script (c. 300 BCE). There is an impressive chart in the book that shows the evolution of the Harappan symbols into Brahmi and Sinhala script. The inscription was discovered in the village of Kolonisyaya in Sri Lanka. In Lost Dynasty the inscription and the dynasty of Ravana are dated back to around 2300 BCE, 1844 years before Gautama Buddha.


To find out more, check out Lost Dynasty.

Once I've digested the material & recover from the high of fresh interpretations of ancient rock inscriptions & artifacts, I plan on interviewing the author of Lost Dynasty at this blog.

Another translated inscription presented in the book provides proof of Gautama Buddha visiting Sri Lanka. More on all this at the interview, coming sometime soon/this month perhaps.

In the meantime, check out Lost Dynasty so that we can discuss it here later.

- Sujewa

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The indie box office issue

To many engaged in filmmaking & distribution in America, how much money a movie makes is a very, very important issue, and is in fact deeply connected to their survival, jobs, self-esteem, how much love they get, and many other essential things.

However, there does seem to be something incredibly vulgar (and i am not the first person to express this) about the obsession that the mainstream media has about how much a movie makes, $s wise - at the box office. This obsession has also creeped into indie film media.

In the "we are mostly just making entertainment products for making cash" areas of the entertainment industry; such as porn, video games, and most Hollywood or mainstream European movies or even Bollywood movies for that matter - all perfectly useful things to many people by the way - there is no issue re: movies making money; movies must make money, a lot of it, end of conversation.

Even in the independent film world, making money is important. The indie film scene as we know it in America did not come into existence until Stranger Than Paradise made over a million dollars - a very significant amount for a weird, arty, no-star, black and white project by a new director. And had this possibility of making a lot of money did not exist, investors and artists would not have rushed into the independent filmmaking field to make it the vibrant and active industry that it has become.

However, in the digitally enabled & self-distribution fueled real indie world, it may be possible to get away with not using box office figures as justification for existence, as indicators of success or failure.

Paradoxically, not worrying too much about the box office, and not even talking about it to people who do not need to know about how much money a film makes or loses (you'd have to tell your businesses partners - including cast & crew who might own a share of the profits - if any, and the government at tax time, and i think that's about it for the essential people) might allow an independent filmmaker to make more interesting movies that ends up making more money than the movies that are designed from the beginning to try to make a certain amount of money.
Trying to imitate what made money last week is a sure way to make me bored. But new combinations, weird new takes on familiar or unfamiliar things, would make me want to check a movie out. So, thinking outside the box office might make for better indie movies, perhaps"more attractive to more people" indie movies - which results in more ticket or DVD sales.

Even if that does happen, at least we'll end up with a lot more of interesting movies, I think.

So, for real indies, at least for my movies - features, not losing money is what is important, or eventually making money from several titles even if some titles do not perform well is what's important, money wise. And beyond that, even if money is lost on a title or two, it being made pretty much how I want it made, hopefully resulting in a very interesting movie at least, is a positive end result - something that might be useful to other people also (future audience members, other filmmakers, etc.).

As the practices of self-distribution and digital production have been embraced and have become very useful tools for independent filmmakers, perhaps embracing the avoidance of box office charts might also be useful to us. At least I will be doing it. I was never too comfortable with the value of a movie being reduced down to a set of quick numbers, and, the money involved in my movies is so little at the moment (compared to Hollywood or indiewood movies), this is something that I can easily do right now. And I think I'll stick with this practice picture after picture - even if budgets & revenue get bigger; no official reporting of 1) how much or how little $s a movie of mine takes to make, and 2) how much money the movie makes back through distribution. This will force people to look for other criteria by which to judge the success or failure of my movies; perhaps criteria that has to do with how the movies makes the audience feel or criteria related to aesthetic values or creative content in the movies; and that would be cool by me. To tell you the truth, I think just getting an indie movie done & sharing it with appreciative people is the ultimate success. And after that - wider distribution, making money from the movie, getting reviews/publicity, etc. is just extra goodies, the gravy, the cherries on top.

We don't really judge the success of fire fighters or bakers or monks or presidents or grave diggers by how much money they make or lose from one of their work projects. And, independent film being art and entertainment, either a quality of life thing or escapism toy or essential survival tool, how much money a movie makes or loses or the knowledge of such facts probably have very little use to the end user. If anything, not having the vast, supergigantic profit and financial success pressure that Hollywood lives under will probably be better for the creative and just overall regular/private lives of indie filmmakers.

Not having to worry about how one of my movies might do at the box office charts is making me feel better already. It also makes me want to make more movies; movies that may or many not make a lot of money at the box office, but would be very interesting & or useful for some or many to experience.

- Sujewa

Stallone re: Burmese junta's violence against the Karen: "This is full scale genocide."

Sylvester Stallone was in Burma filming John Rambo recently. A Herald Sun article talks about what Stallone witnessed. Here is a segment from the article:

"He returned before the Burmese military's violent crackdown against monks and residents participating in the largest pro-democracy protests in Burma in two decades. Burmese journalists estimate between 40 and 50 people have been killed since last Wednesday, with details emerging of some of their fates.

The Burmese army has also waged a war against ethnic groups - raping women and killing innocent victims. Hardest hit have been the Karen - one of several minority groups seeking greater independence and autonomy."

Read the rest here.

And later in the article:

" "This is full scale genocide. I want an 'R' and I want the violence in there because it is reality. It would be a whitewashing not to show what's over there,'' he told Associated Press."

Read all about it here.

And here's a wikipedia page on the Karen people.

- Sujewa

Monday, October 01, 2007

DC APA Film Fest Blogs

Check out the blog for the DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival here.

- Sujewa

Daily Mail: thousands massacred in Burma, bodies dumped in jungles, & a defection

From this Daily Mail article.

Here is the intro:

" Thousands of protesters are dead and the bodies of hundreds of executed monks have been dumped in the jungle, a former intelligence officer for Burma's ruling junta has revealed.

The most senior official to defect so far, Hla Win, said: "Many more people have been killed in recent days than you've heard about. The bodies can be counted in several thousand." "

Read the rest here.

Well, the junta is not down with peaceful protesters, so maybe an invasion by a UN peacekeeping force is necessary. Actually, maybe NATO, as in Bosnia. Or, most likely, it will just fall on the Burmese people themselves, including exiles & the million or so refugees living on Thai border, to liberate themselves from the junta through war.

- Sujewa

Karen rebels reportedly killed 4 Burmese soldiers

From this article at Mizzima news.

Here is a segment:

"I don't know where this battalion will be posted as they have been ordered to move back to base. I don't know if they will be deployed in Rangoon to kill protesting monks and students. But it is a reinforcement. That's why our people have attacked them," Pado Mann Sha told Mizzima.

Read the rest here.

If true, get used to news like this Burma, as non-violent protesters get beaten down & killed, armed action against the military dictatorship will increase. Either way, in the end, the junta will be out of power because 400,000 people (the size of the Burmese armed forces when i last checked on it) can't keep 50 million angry people (or the total population of Burma) down for long. The change could have come peacefully but looks like the junta has chosen the violent path. it won't be pretty.

- Sujewa

a couple of dc musicians talking at a museum in nyc

i took a break from checking out burma news & other sunday pm work & checked out this lively conversation between ian svenonius and ian mackaye:

part 1

part 2

part 3

part 4

- sujewa

US Campaign for Burma calls for boycott of 2008 Olympics in China

From UC Campaign for Burma website:

" China is paralyzing UN Security Council action on Burma. They are the main economic, military, and political supporters of the military junta. For fifteen years China has refused to press its closest ally to allow its people human rights, and used its veto power to block the UN Security Council from acting. As a result, the UN is making the same mistakes it made on Darfur and Rwanda. We are calling on people of conscience throughout the world to boycott the 2008 Chinese Olympics, join our efforts.

The military is now utilizing violence against monks and other non-violent protestors. They have beaten and arrested hundreds of people, and it is reported that more than a hundred have been killed. We are tired of the international communities just making statements - they must ACT. Show your support and outrage - Take Action Now"

- Sujewa



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