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COINS Film Festival 2014:

Laudable vision for the film industry

The Digital Film Academy of the Sri Lanka Foundation will hold the second Colombo International Student Film Festival (COINS) 2014 from April 4 to 6. It is an open competition for students who are involved with film studies and film-making and it is an exclusive opportunity for them to showcase their cinematic talents improved through their curriculum in Sri Lanka and abroad.


Dhanushka Gunathilake

This year Frame International Student Film Festival 2014 in New Delhi is also joining hands with the COINS Film Festival as the official International film festival partner and part of the package of COINS Film Festival 2014 will be screened in New Delhi at the Frames International Students Film Festival 2014 which will be held on April 7 and 8.

COINS Film Festival 2014 film screenings are open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from April 4 to 6 at the Sri Lanka Foundation auditorium and the exhibitions are open till 8 p.m. at the same venue.

As the official print media partner of the event the Sunday Observer interviewed Dhanushka Gunathilake, head of the Digital Film Academy (DFA).

Excerpts:

Question: Tell us how COINS began?

Answer: COINS is organised by the students who had successfully followed the Higher National Diploma of Film and Television conducted by the Digital Film Academy at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute. It is a two-year course and in the fourth semester, organising the COINS Film Festival is part of their curriculum. The main reason why we wanted to organise COINS Film Festival is during the two years of the course nearly 100 short films were produced by the students. The COINS Film Festival is the platform for them to display their work and compete with eminent film-makers who.

Selection process

Q: What are the categories and the selection process of the films?

A: As this an international studentsí festival, we wanted to give a fair chance for local students to compete with international students and see where they stand. Therefore, all international and local students will compete under three main categories such as Fiction short films, Non-Fiction short films (Documentary) and Experimental short films.

Under these categories we will award for the best cinematography, directing, editing and sound designing. There are three main awards named Golden COIN Award which goes for the best short film and

it can be either a fiction, non-fiction or experimental.

Thereís another main award called Alumnar Award and it is for the projects submitted by the students of Digital Film Academy who are now in the field of film-making.

The next will be the Life time achievement award for a film-maker who has contributed to the Sri Lankan film industry. Fifteen awards will be presented at the awarding ceremony on April 6 at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute.

All films should be student projects produced under assignment at a university or institute. They should have been produced after April 2011, animation Films should be no less than 1 minute duration and live Action short films should be no less than 3 minutes duration and not more than 25 minutes duration.

Program schedule

Q: Explain the program schedule of the COINS Film Festival which will start on April 4 and go on till April 6.

A: The COINS Film Festival has three main sections, film screening, workshop series and exhibition. Through a jury of veterans we have short-listed 60 films out of productions of local and international students and we will screen them on April 4 and 5.

Simultaneously we conduct three workshops and the first workshop will be held on April 4 and it is on the theme of film and television medium and the participants will be Advanced Level students and teachers from local schools who are interested in film-making.

The main intention of the workshop is to create an interest among schoolchildren about the academic sector of film-making and conducted by renowned film director Sudath Mahadiwulwewa who will discuss the topic of film as a medium of expression and veteran film cinematographer M.D. Mahindapala who will provide an introduction to classical cinema of the world.

The Master Class will be held on April 5 and 6 with the theme of making micro budget films and film medium transformation on analog to digital and thatíll be conducted by A.S. Kanal, a senior practising cinematographer from India and Jayashree Kanal, a script writer, TV program director who teaches direction and acting at the Film and TV Institute of India (FTII).

Kanal is also an ex-professor from the FTII, Pune and the director of a renowned Film and Media Studies Institute based in Pune having a teaching experience of over 25 years.

He is the author of the well-known book ĒCinematographerís HandbookĒ . The Master Class is mainly for the students who submitted their films for the COINS Film Festival. A.S. Kanal and Jayashree are also members of the COINS film festivalís final jury.

We have invited almost every production house in Sri Lanka to exhibit the latest technology and equipment and itíll be an ideal opportunity for all the film-makers to get hands on experience about the latest technology available in Sri Lanka.

Academic training

Q: Nowadays short film-making has become the popular medium of expression among young people. We see many upcoming young film-makers in the industry, some are academically equipped in film-making and some are not. As a leading film studies institution in the country, do you believe it is possible to create film-makers through academic training?

A: In our institution we provide ample knowledge on the latest technology available in film-making. We teach them the craft and the essence of art while providing them the freedom to think and come-up with their ideas.

During the process we never put any social or political boundaries which may ruin their free thinking. Our main concern throughout the process is to facilitate their ideas to reach the screen and it is quite irrelevant whether their ideas are ethically or politically correct.

We can only create the space for free thinking but we can never teach how to think.

However, we never expect each student who learn film-making should become a film-maker at the end of the course.

None of the institutions can do that. Our expectation is to create academically qualified students in film-making who can work at different levels in the same industry while a very few would be engaged in film-making on a full-time basis.

The main target of the DFA is to attract young schoolleavers who have the passion for this field.

They can take the decision early when selecting their professional backgrounds. Because most of the top ranking film-makers in Sri Lanka are above 50 and very few of them are involved in film-making on a full-time basis. Itís mainly because itís rarely that anyone would take to film-making as a profession but for most of them it is just a hobby.

We wanted to change this trend and itís quite important to have professionally qualified young film-makers in the industry.

However, it is a long process and within another 10 years I think we can see the results of what we are doing now.

Entries

Q: How many entries did you receive so far for the festival internationally and locally?

A: We have received more than 200 entries and of them there are 70 films from international students.

The majority of 70 international films are from India and there are four Chinese films and another four from Hong Kong and two from The United States. Out of 200 entries the first jury has short-listed 60 films and out of that 40 films were selected from the second jury as the official selection of the festival.

During the next few days before the festival the third jury will select the nominees and the award winning films of the festival.

Q: What is the main intention behind organising the COINS Film festival and why has the festival been restricted only to film students?

A: Academic qualifications and discipline are quite crucial in film-making as in all the other professions. To create a value in film-making is the main idea that we want to implant in our society.

In Sri Lanka how much of academic knowledge that you have in film-making is irrelevant if you donít have sufficient practical knowledge.

We wanted to challenge this myth. It is important to have a fair chance for those who have a decent academic knowledge in film-making to make a film. That is the main idea behind the COINS Film festival as well as the DFA.

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