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.
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
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).
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.
Q: What are the categories and the selection process of the
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.