Two women from a farming village about 100 kilometers from the country’s capital were raped within one year by a court judge presiding over cases which involved their husbands as accused parties. They have gone to Judiciary Services Commission, the BAR Association and to the president of the country to seek justice. Those institutions and people were non-responsive to their complaints. Angered husbands of two women swear revenge but their efforts to avenge the judge are futile. An editor of a leading alternative newspaper publishes the story of one of the women. He continues to follow up the incident and publish a series of articles exposing the judge’s misdeed. Still, the Attorney General refuses to take action in reprimanding the judge. The newspaper editor pursues the truth with mounting peer pressure, three years after the incidents, the Judiciary Services Commission appoints a tribunal consisting three high court judges to investigate the accusations made by the newspaper. The tribunal finds the judge to be guilty of all charges. Yet, instead of dismissing the judge from his duties, the Judiciary Service Commission sends him on compulsory leave with pay. The two women’s family lives have been destroyed. After failing to gain justice, the newspaper editor focuses his struggles against the Attorney General who covered up the case. When the Attorney General is up for appointment as the Chief Justice of the country, the newspaper editor writes a book about the system’s failure to deliver justice to commoners based on these women’s’ stories. Nevertheless, 14 years later, today, the editor and the two women are still waiting for justice to be served. In year 2014, a filmmaker embarks on a journey to unearth these events and searches for the root causes of this ongoing injustice.
When I read the book Unfinished Struggle by journalist Victor Ivan, the story about two women who were denied justice made me think about my existence as a passive bystander in the same system that failed to deliver justice. As a result I visited the village where those two women still live. It reminded me of a rural area and its villagers in the novel Village in the Jungle written by Leonard Woolf 100 years ago. Those villagers were also victims of their socio-economic background, at the mercy of climate changes and were confounded by the court and justice system during British colonial times. Since that novel, we have gained independence and become a republic. Yet, even at the start of the 21st century, rural villagers’ lives and fates remain the same. Reformist measures have been undertaken, but looking at the bottom line, the lives of most of the peasantry has hardly changed. This was a revelation for me and now I am ready to search beneath the surface for the root causes of that injustice.
Prasanna Vithanage directed his first film, Ice of Fire, in 1992. His second feature, Dark Night of the Soul (1996), won the Jury's Special Mention in the 1st Pusan International Film Festival. Walls Within (1997) also won awards in Singapore and Amiens, while Death on a Full Moon Day (1997) gained the Grand Prix at the Amiens Film Festival but was initially banned by the Sri Lankan Government. His fifth film, August Sun, went on to win five international awards and was featured prominently in the world festival circuit including Cannes Film Festival. His sixth feature as writer/director, Flowers of the Sky (2008), premiered in Busan International Film Festival, while his seventh feature, With You, Without You (2012) won five international awards and nominated for the Best Film at Asia Pacific Screen Awards. The film is the first Sri Lankan film to received commercial release in India. He is also active as an international producer.
Prasanna Vithanage formed Prasanna Vithanage Productions in 1997 to produce his fourth feature Purahanda Kaluwara (Death on a Full Moon Day), a co-production with Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) that won the Grand Prize at the Amien International Film Festival. The company has subsequently worked with Uberto PASOLINI’s debut Machan (2007) and coproduced Akasa Kusum (Flowers of the Sky) (2008), Oba Nathuwa Oba Ekka (With You, Without You 2012) and the current pre-production Children of the Sun which was presented in Asian Project Market at Busan International Film Festival and received Hubert Bals Fund.