BY SUSITHA R. FERNANDO
Dr. Lester James Peries, the revered father of Sri Lankan cinema will celebrate his 99 birthday today.
The senior most filmmaker in the country, Dr. Peries revolutionized country’s cinema in 1956 creating ‘Rekhava’ (Line of Destiny), the first ever film to be shot outdoors using natural environment and lights.
Dr. Peries was responsible for leading the way for country’s authentic cinema which was then plagued by the South Indian low grade movies that were made in studios with artificial backgrounds. ‘Rekhava’ created international mark as it was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the 1957 Cannes Film Festival. Dr. Peries is widely recognised as one the three leading filmmakers in Asia, the title he shares along with India’s Satyajit Ray and Japan’s Akira Korosawa. Born to a well reputed Roman Catholic family in Dehiwala on April 5, 1919, Lester James Peries’ father was Dr James Francis Peiris a well-known medical doctor who graduated in Scotland.
His mother Ms Ann Gertrude Winifred Jayasuriya a student of St. Bridget’s Convent, Colombo was the first girl to pass the Senior Cambridge Examination from the school.
Coinciding with the birthday, ‘Vaishnavee’ newest film made based on his story by his wife Sumitra Peries will be released today. At the premiere of the film, Dr. Peries is to be awarded a Life Time Award by Ceylon Theatres Limited, country’s pioneering film maker and distributor while Cinema Entertainment Pvt.
Limited is to award a cash prize for his yeoman service to country cinema. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will be the chief guest at the premiere.