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Jackson, Geetha shine at Presidential Film Awards

JACKSON Anthony and Geetha Kumarasinghe were the toast among the local film world at Wednesday's star spangled night of the Presidential Film Awards 2005 at the BMICH bagging awards for Best Actor and Actress for Outstanding Roles in 'Sooriya Arana' and 'Randiya Dahara'.

Present and past stars were there in anticipation bearing testimony to the State's gesture of appreciating their talents and performances on the silver screen, after a gap of four years.

They were encouraged by the presence of the Head of State President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga to give them that much needed fillip to strive for further excellence.

Though politicians made their usual presence at the awards night the photographs contained in the souvenir handed over to the participants by the organisers placed the President in the role of an artiste rather than a political figure or as the Head of the State.

The State body handling the cinema industry, the National Film Corporation under the Cultural and National Heritage Ministry's guidance organised this event, in the true sense of giving

State sponsorship for the uplift of the film industry.

The elegant dance sequences by the Channa, Upulee Dancing Institute and the drum beat mixed with Eastern and Western music presented by young and energetic musician Jananatha Warakagoda added a soft ambience to this colourful night.

Though the awards were confined to films screened during 2004, Film Corporation Chairman Sunil S. Sirisena cleared the doubts in the minds of film artistes saying that the Government has made all arrangements to confer awards for films screened in 2001 to 2003 within the next two months.

President Kumaratunga too sought forbearance from the artistes for not having the awards ceremony for four years but added that it was not her fault but of the Government in power at the time for not sponsoring the event.

Twenty two films screened in 2004 competed for 18 Presidential Awards under various categories.

Mille Soya directed by Vishvanath Buddhika Keerthisena bagged the Best Film of the Year 2004 along with the award for the Best Director competing with 22 films.

Renuka Balasooriya took away the award for the Box Office performing film for 'Sooriya Arana'. 'Sooriya Arana' bagged the highest number of awards at the ceremony.

A true reflection of State assistance to the film industry and the appreciation of the service rendered by the film artistes by the State was witnessed when President Kumaratunga honoured four leading film artistes Tony Ranasinghe, D.B. Nihalsinghe, Iranganie Serasinghe and Dr. Premasiri Khemadasa for their lifetime contribution towards the uplift of the Sinhala cinema presenting them with the Golden Lion Award.

Shelton Premaratna (for his contribution to cinema music), G.D.L. Perera (for his contribution towards cinematography) and to Udula Dabare and Anula Karunatilleke for their contribution to the industry as actresses, were also honoured at the ceremony.

Film star turned politician and Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Jeevan Kumaratunga gave away the awards to these leading figures in the cinema industry.

The special feature of the awards night was the appreciation of local artistes who won international awards for their films, with each awarded a cash prices of Rs. 150,000.

Accordingly Vishva Keerthi award were conferred on Benette Ratnayaka (for winning five international awards for his film Asvesuma), Asoka Handagama (for gaining five international awards for his film Me Mage Sandai and six international awards for Tani Tatuven Piyabanna), Nityavani Kandasamy (Best Actress at the 17th International Film Festival -Iran for her role in Punchi Surnaganavi), Anoma Janadari (Best Actress Singapore International Film Festival - Tani Tatuven Piyabanna), Inoka Satyangani Keerthinanda (for gaining four international awards for her film Sulang Kirillee), Dhamitha Abeyratna (Best Actress Dhaka International Film Festival - Sulang Kirillee), Prasanna Withanage (for Ira Mediyama), Nimmi Harasgama (Best Actress at the 5th Las Palmas International Film Festival - Spain for Ira Mediyama.

Ports and Aviation Minister Mangala Samaraweera joined in handing over awards for artistes in recognition of the internationally acclaimed performances.

Asoka Handagama in a touching gesture dispatched a note to the organisers that the Rs. 150,000 cash award given to him should be donated to the development of the Jaffna library which was burnt by chauvinistic elements, while stating his inability to be present at the awards night on a policy matter.

Young and upcoming film artiste Vimukthi Jayasundara was given higher recognition at the awards night for bringing the highest international award to the country (Camera d'or) at the Canne's International Film Festival.

He received a Rs. 1 million cash award from President Kumaratunga for this achievement.

Finance Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama gave away the merit awards to Dasun Madusanka (for his role as Podi Sadu of Sooriya Arana), Sajith Anuttara (for his role Tikira of Sooriya Arana), Srimal Satyajith (Randiya Dahara), Seeta Kumari (Randiya Dahara), Gunasiri Uhanovita (make up artiste of Aadaraneeya Vassanaya) and to Asoka Jayasekara (camera director Aadaraneeya Vassanaya).

Chathurika Peris and Roshan Rajapakse who played the leading roles in the film Aadaraneeya Vassanaya won the Best Up Coming Actress and actor awards. Somaratna Dissanayake (Sooriya Arana) was adjudged the Best Composer while Deepika Priyadarshanie Peiris (Aadaraneeya Vassanaya) and Harsha Dissanayaka (Sooriya Arana) won the award for the Best Play Back Singer (female and male).

Awards for Best Make Up Artiste - Ebert Wijesinghe (Sooriya Arana), Best Art Director - Chandraguptha Thenuwara (Mille Soya), Best Sound Engineer - Shyamana Premasundara (Sooriya Arana), Best Supporting Actress (Grace Ariyawimal (Gini Kirillee), Best Supporting Actor - Mahendra Perera (Randiya Dahara), Best Editor - Ravindra Guruge (Mille Soya), Best Cinamatographer - Channa Deshapriya (Sooriya Arana), Best Music Director - Navaratna Gamage (Aadaraneeya Vassanaya), Best Screenplay - Somaratna Dissanayake (Sooriya Arana)received awards from Cultural and National Heritage Minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena.

The Minister whose first official function after being appointed as the Minister of Cultural and National Heritage promised to do his best for the uplift of the industry.

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