Prasanna Vithanage

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Prasanna Vithanage during Vesoul International Film Festival of Asian Cinema, 2009.

Prasanna Vithanage (born in 1962) is a filmmaker in Sri Lanka. His films have won many awards, both local and international, and have also been commercially successful. In his early theatre work, he translated and produced plays by international writers, and has adapted works of world literature to film.

His 7th and most recent film, Oba Nathuwa Oba Ekka (With You, Without You – Tamil title = Piragu) (2012), had its world premier in the "World Greats" section at the 39th Montreal International Film Festival. Written by Prasanna, Oba Nathuwa Oba Ekka (With You, Without You) is adapted from a novella by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (A Gentle Creature, a.k.a. The Meek One) and set in post-war Sri Lanka. On the international festival run, by late 2013 Oba Nathuwa Oba Ekka (With You, Without You) had won 5 international awards, including "best picture" in France and Italy. It earned a nomination for best picture at the 2013 Asia Pacific Screen Awards in Australia.

Aagaya Pookkal, the Tamil-dubbed version of his 6th feature film, Akasa Kusum, was screened in Jaffna on 1 April 2011. It was the only movie premier of a Sinhala film director to have been held in Jaffna during the past 30 years.

On 30 March 2013, Vithanage founded the 'Prasanna Vithanage Academy of Acting' in Sri Lanka, for aspiring acting students.


Born in 1962 to a Sinhalese family, Prasanna Vithanage became involved in theatre after leaving school. He translated and directed George Bernard Shaw's play, Arms and the Man, in 1986. In 1991, he translated and directed a production of Italian Dario Fo's Trumpets and Raspberries.

In 1992, he directed his first film, Sisila Gini Gani (Ice of Fire). It won nine OCIC (Sri Lanka) awards, including Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress.

Four years later, he released his second feature Anantha Rathriya (Dark Night of the Soul) (1996), which he wrote and directed. It was based on Leo Tolstoy's last novel Resurrection. It was shown at several international film festivals and won a Jury's Special Mention in the First Pusan International Film Festival. The film won all the main awards at the 1996 Sri Lanka Film Critics Forum Awards (affiliated with FIPRESCI), including awards for Most Outstanding Film, Best Director and Best Screenwriter.

Pawuru Walalu (Walls Within, 1997), his third feature, won the Best Actress Award for Nita Fernando in her role as Violet, at the 1998 Singapore International Film Festival. It won ten of eleven awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, at the Sri Lanka Film Critics Forum Awards.

His fourth feature, Purahanda Kaluwara (Death on a Full Moon Day, 1997), which he wrote and directed, was produced by NHK (Japanese Broadcasting Corporation). It won the Grand Prix at the Amiens Film Festival. Initially banned in Sri Lanka by the minister in charge of film industry, it was released after a yearlong legal battle. It was released by the ruling of the Supreme Court. It has become one of the most commercially successful films in Sri Lanka.

Vithanage completed Ira Madiyama (August Sun, 2003) as his fifth film. It won many international awards and was featured prominently in the world festival circuit. In 2007, Vithanage co-produced the hit film Machan,a comedy about a group of working class con artists posing as a handball team, directed by Uberto Pasolini, who produced The Full Monty. Machan premiered at the 65th Venice Film Festival in 2008. It won 11 international awards.

Vithanage's sixth feature film as director, "Akasa Kusum" (Flowers of the Sky) premiered at a festival in Pusan, Korea. It was screened at more than 30 film festivals and won numerous international awards.

Personal life[edit]

Born in Panadura, Sri Lanka, a suburb outside Colombo, Prasanna attended D.S. Senanayake College, in Colombo, a leading national school for his secondary education. In 1991 he married actress Damayanthi Fonseka, a younger sister of Malini Fonseka,arguably the most popular actress of Sinhala Cinema.





Direction and translation[edit]

  • Dwithwa, from Dario Fo's Trumpets and Raspberries (1991)
  • Horu Samaga Heluwen, from Daro Fo's The Virtuous Burglar & One Was Nude and One Wore Tails (2006)
  • Debiddo – new production of Dwithwa (2010)



Sisila Gini Gani[edit]

Anantha Rathriya[edit]

Pawuru Wallalu[edit]

Puruhanda Kaluwara[edit]

Ira Madiyama (August Sun)[edit]

Akasa Kusum (Flowers of the Sky)[edit]


  • 10 SIGNIS film awards (Sri Lanka)including Best Film.
  • Silver Peacock Award (Best Actress – Malini Fonseka), Indian International Film Festival (IFFF), India
  • Best Actress – Malini Fonseka, Levante International Film Festival, Italy[1]
  • Jury Special Mention Award, Vesoul Asian Film Festival, France
  • Best Asian Film (NETPAC) Award – Granada Cinesdelsur Film Festival, Spain
  • Best Film – SAARC Film Festival 2012
  • Best Actress – Malini Fonseka – SAARC Film Festival 2012[2]

Official Selections

– Nominee, International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) Award

– Nominee, Best Actress Malini Fonseka

Oba Nathuwa Oba Ekka (With You, Without You)[edit]


  1. ^ Ruwini Jayawardana (25 April 2010). "More honours for Malini". Sunday Observer. Retrieved 18 May 2010. 
  2. ^ Ruwini Jayawardana (27 July 2009). "Akasa Kusum (Flowers of the Sky) Set for August Release". Daily News, Sri Lanka. Retrieved 17 May 2010. 
  3. ^ Webmaster. "The Awards – Nominated Asia Pacific Screen Awards Best Performance by an Actress". Asia Pacific Screen Awards – Official Site. Retrieved 18 May 2010. 
  4. ^ Asian American Film and Theater Project (October 2009). "2009 Films". New Jersey Independent South Asian Cine Fest 2009. Retrieved 15 May 2010. 

External links[edit]