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The Forsaken Land

// Presented as part of Filmatique's Locarno Open Doors Series //

Spotlight on The Forsaken Land

Vimukthi Jayasundara / Sri Lanka, 2005 / Cannes / 107'


Two soldiers rotate between shifts guarding an empty, barren landscape.  While Anura is a family-man, and Piyarsiri a much older alcoholic, both their faces communicate a distant, weary sadness ostensibly formed in the absence of meaning in their duty.  Only the occasional passing soldier punctuates the howling of wind.  This sense of quiet desperation extends to Anura's wife, who dresses each morning and boards the bus to work; while her sister yearns to leave and find a job as a teacher, her daughter, Batti, seems to understand that the monotony will not cease.


An evocative, stylistically-accomplished portrait of the ennui of war-torn Sri Lanka, Vimukthi Jayasundara's feature film debut, The Forsaken Land won the Prince Claus Fund Film Grant at Rotterdam and premiered in Un Certain Regard at Cannes, where it won the Camera d'Or for best debut film.


"There's poetry in The Forsaken Land— not the written kind (there's barely any dialogue)— but visual poetry replete with still, painterly compositions and finely nuanced lighting... Worth singling out for praise is helmer's masterful use of off-screen sound, which uses noises from helicopters, or just wind, to enhance the overall oppressive atmosphere.  Likewise, art director Rohan Samaradivakara's basic structures set against the featureless landscape perfectly reflect the mood of a temporary despair made permanent"

- Jay Weissberg, Cannes ReviewVariety