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Of The Island Celebrates Lankan Self-Representation

Of The Island is a short film by Amanda Yogendran and Vidhya Manivannan that centers four young creatives of the Sinhalese, Tamil, and Burgher Sri Lankan diaspora – Ushka, Rolex Rasathy, ELSZ, and Santhya – who share their experiences of migration, culture, identity, art, and self-expression.

“I feel like I always had an alter ego,” a voice in the film’s opening scene says. This duality speaks to not only the subjects’ shared desire to honor both their individuality and culture, but to Sri Lanka’s existence as both a tropical tourist paradise and the site of a horrific and long running civil war, the aftermath of which continues to reverberate today.

The film’s stars are each given the space to discuss their distinct personal relationship to the complicated island, and how it has shaped their creative practice and world view. Through this opportunity for self-reflection and self-representation, the filmmakers hope to offer a more nuanced and multi-dimensional representation of Sri Lanka, beyond cricket, saris, and being not quite India.

Tamil Rapper M.I.A, perhaps still the only globally recognizable Sri Lankan pop culture figure, provides an anchor for the film as its subjects recount the “disbelief, joy and euphoria” they felt when they first saw her. They reflect on her efforts to draw global attention to Sri Lanka’s political situation and challenge widely held beliefs around what constitutes a “good Tamil woman.” 

*Read the rest of the original story published on kajalmag.com.*

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