LOCARNO, Switzerland — Asian Shadows has acquired international rights to Suba Sivakumaran’s feature debut “House of My Fathers,” a project presented at Locarno’s Open Doors in 2016.
It will be the first Sri Lankan film on the slate of Asian Shadows, the Hong Kong-based sales agency representing Asian talent such as Chinese Wang Bing’s “Mrs. Fang,” a Golden Leopard Winner in 2017, and Thai Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit’s “Die Tomorrow,” premiered in Berlin this year.
“House of My Fathers” is produced by Suba Sivakumaran’s Palmyrah Talkies which is based in London, in co-production with Dominique Welinski at DW Productions, whose credits include Karim Aïnouz’ “Madame Satã” and Alireza Khatami’s “Oblivion Verses.” Welinski is co-producing Sanjeewa Pushpakumara’s new project “Mother,” which is being presented at this year 71st Locarno Open Doors Hub.
“We were amazed by the strength of the film, in both its style and message. Suba has made a powerful political and poetic debut film. Her narration mixes fantasy with the trauma of civil war, putting at the center of our attention the human and emotional cost of long political conflicts,” founder Isabelle Glachant told Variety. Feature is about to finish post-production, ready for the fall festival circuit.
In “House of My Fathers,” two Sri Lankan villages –one Tamil, one Sinhala– have been at war with each other for decades. When, on both sides, villagers become infertile, they receive a message from the gods. A Sinhala man and a Tamil woman are to be sent to an isolated place where they will find the secret to renew life. But only one of them will return. In the Forest of the Dead, Asoka and Ahalya face the secrets of their villages and their personal pasts.
Told in a fable style, the feature’s episodes are linked to diverse events from history offering a reading of a post-conflict society. The film “is about all those people who have loved and lost, and perhaps knowingly, or unknowingly betrayed those whom they did love,” Sivakumaran told Variety.
She added: “It is a film made for those who resist easy answers, and for those who are committed to facing the truth, especially about themselves.”
A Sri Lankan Tamil writer-director, Sivakumaran directed the short “Bluebird” alongside Rafik Omrani, which premiered at Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight this year in the “Tunisia Factory” program. Her first short, “I Too Have a Name,” premiered in competition at the 2012 Berlinale.
“The House of my Fathers” stars Sri Lankan thesp Bimal Jayakody (Anuruddha Jayasinghe’ “Sankranthi”. “We all suffered the same war for 30 years, and we all have different views of this matter, but this script has embedded all our experiences. I hope that the people will experience this film through their heart, and that it may change their views on this matter.” Jayakody told Variety.
Cast also includes Pradeepa and Steve De La Zilwa. The feature’s d.p. is Kalinga Deshapriya (Sanjeewa Pushpakumara’s “Burning Birds”).
Sivakumaran is now in the early stages on a new project –”Children of the Atom Bomb,” a road-trip thriller set in London about refugees escaping from a state whose post-Brexit immigration policy has become increasingly inhuman. “It’s about resistance that is not headline-grabbing, but rather small, quiet steps to change the beating heart of our world,” she explained.