A significant number of Gamini’s films and many more that were in the archives are decayed by now and not in a position to be restored as a result of non-preservation over the decades.
The Gamini Fonseka Foundation headed by Damith Fonseka initiated preserving, restoring and conserving ‘Parasathu Mal’ as a pilot-project in 2016. ‘Parasathu Mal’ produced by Chitra Balasooriya was directed by Gamini Fonseka himself in his youth.
This film restoration program has now been extended to preserving and restoring films kept at the NFC.
The closing ceremony of a five-day workshop on preserving, restoring and archiving films organized by the NFC in association with the international federation of film archives (FIAF), the film heritage foundation of India, Gamini Fonseka Foundation and Lester James Peiris Foundation was held at the NFC’s Tharangani hall.
Three eminent persons were in Sri Lanka to share their practical knowledge on film restoration and conservation with the participants. They were Digital preservation Consultant, IWM Training and Outreach Coordinator FIAF, David Walsh, Former manager of conservation service at the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA), Mick Newnham and Film Heritage Foundation Director, Shivendra Singh Dungarpur.
The first workshop was held at the NFC followed by two other workshops held for a selected group on March 12 and 13 at Dalugama Sarasavi studio. A discussion on film preservation was held on March 14.
The Sri Lankan government has invested 20 million rupees for the film preservation and restoration endeavour. FIAF has covered the visiting experts’ costs.
Present NFC Chairman Sithendra Senaratne mentioned the cinema great Dr Lester James Peries’s plea to scientifically restore Sinhala films in 1966. He appreciated Damith Fonseka’s effort in restoring and preserving films that was extended from Gamini Fonseka films to other films kept at the NFC. He also appreciated the former NFC Chairman Deepal Chadraratne’s efforts to restore and preserve local films with Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe’s blessings. NFC Chairman commended the contribution by the visiting experts to conduct the workshops.
Damith Fonseka said, “From time to time attention had been drawn towards archiving films without scientifically grasping the finer-points in the restoration and preservation processes. Thus films were kept in safe places for the sake of archiving them. Once films are converted to digital copies they are confine to a limited lifespan while films in reels could be kept in immaculate conditions for a 100 years. Hence the world is now sticking to basics as regards to film preservation and restoration using new technology”.
Minister of Public Administration and Management and Law and Order Ranjith Madduma Bandara said that President Maithripala Sirisena and the Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe have made decisions on proactive contribution to rejuvenate local cinema.
“The heritage of a country is of great importance to its people and to the world and the heritage of cinema of a country is no exception. Preserving our cinema heritage should not just be for the sake of nostalgia. The present Government has granted 25 million rupees last year to enhance facilities of Dalugama Sarasavi studio. We have granted 50 million rupees to commission a film preservation unit within the NFC. Also we have allocated 50 million rupees to commence a Film School in Dalugama Sarasavi studio premises. We will soon offer low-interest loans to digitalize film halls. We will start communicating with all bodies connected with the film industry and launch an integrated program to rejuvenate local cinema,” he said.
Tokens of appreciation were given to the three foreign experts who came down.
Dr Lester James Peries’ ‘Rekhava’ which was restored and converted to DCP technology was screened.
(under the courtesy of dailynews.lk news web)