Sumitra Peries

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Sumitra Peries
Born (1935-03-24) March 24, 1935 (age 79)
Sri Lanka Avissawella , Sri Lanka

Lester James Peries

Sumitra Peries at the Internet Movie Database

Sumitra Peries (born March 24, 1935) is a Sri Lankan filmmaker and Sri Lanka's ambassador to France in the late 1990s. Her most popular film is Ganga Addara and married to a famous film director Lester James Peries.[1][2]


Early life[edit]

Sumitra Gunawardena (birth name) was born on March 24, 1935 to a Marxist family known as Boralugoda Gunewardenas in Avissawella. Her father, Henry (better known as Harry) Gunawardena was a proctor in Avissawella and mother, Harriette Wickramasinghe was from a middle-class family. Three of Sumitra's relatives, Dinesh Gunawardena, Geethanjana Gunawardena and Prasanna Gunawardena, are still in Sri Lankan politics today.

When Sumitra was 14 years her mother died. At that time her brother Gamini was five years older and her sister Chandralatha, four years older. She also has a younger brother Ranjith. After the tragedy of their mother's death, Gamini went to the south of France and lived in a yacht with a French painter.

Sumitra began her education in Avissawella, then later enrolled to Visakha Vidyalaya in Colombo and finally joined the Aquinas College Colombo to do the London Advanced Level.

At the age of 20 Sumitra find some amount of money and travelled to Europe by ship to meet her elder brother Gamini there to build her own career there.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Sumitra married Lester James Peries on June 19, 1964 at All Saints Church.


She studied film making at the London School of Film Technique and was awarded a Diploma in Film Direction and Production (1957–1959). She was the only woman studying this subject there at that time. After passing out, she began working at Mai Harris, a subtitling firm for a short period and returned home in Sri Lanka.

Sumitra's brother Gamini contacted Lester and checked the possibility of her sister to work with him. Lester agreed and Sumitra started the work as assistant director in his second film Sandesaya. A filmmaking company called Cinelanka was established in 1963 with Anton Wickramasinghe also Lester and Sumitra as major shareholders.

In the 1980s Sumitra was a member of the Presidential Commission for two years to conducted an inquiry into Sri Lanka's film sector regarding all aspects of the industry such as its troubles, statistics, public opinions and recommendations.

She was in charge of production for Worldview International in Sri Lanka in period of 1988-1990. Also during the period of the late 1980s and early 1990s, she was a member of the Board of Management of the Institute of Aesthetique Studies, Kelaniya University, Sri Lanka and Prof A J Gunewardena was the Director General of the Institute at that time.

Sumitra has been working as Sri Lanka's Ambassador to France. She won the award for the best film director in fifty (50) years of Sri Lankan cinema.[4]


Sumitra Peries latest cinema venture is Yahaluwo (Best Friends) released in December 2007.[5]

In 2012 Sumitra Peries became the first director ever to shoot her latest movie Vaishnavee with the latest Red Epic camera and laid the foundation for the next Generation Digital Cinema for Sri Lanka


International awards[edit]

  • Carthage International Film Festival - Gehenu Lamai - Diploma of Merit (1978), shared the jury award with Mirinal Sen of India.[6]
  • London Film Festival - Gehenu Lamai - Outstanding Film of the Year (1978)
  • South Asian Film Festival in Tokyo, Japan - Ganga Addara - Diploma
  • Moscow International Film Festival - Yahalu Yeheli - Diploma (1984), purchased by a German television channel in 1986
  • Filmex International Film Festival, Los Angeles - Yahalu Yeheli - Diploma (1985)
  • International Film Festival, Tokyo - Sagara Jalaya - One of the Ten Best Films, purchased by a Japanese television station
  • Nantes International Film Festival - Loku Duwa - Diploma (1993)
  • Fukuoka International Film Festival - Loku Duwa (1994)
  • London Film Festival - Duwata Mawaka Misa - Diploma (1998)
  • International Film Festival, India - Duwata Mawaka Misa (1998)
  • Fukuoka International Film Festival - Duwata Mawaka Misa (1998)
  • Golden Lotus - Deauville Award for "Contribution to Asian Cinema" (2001)

National awards[edit]

Best Editor:

  • Gamperaliya - Sarasaviya Film Awards (1964)
  • Delovak Athara - Sarasaviya Film Awards (1967)
  • Ahasin Polawata - Presidential Awards (1979) & OCIC Awards (1979)
  • Bakmaha Deege - Critics Awards (1971)

Best Director:

  • Ganga Addara - Sarasaviya Film Awards (1981) & Presidential Awards (1981)
  • Yahalu Yeheli - Presidential Awards (1983) & OCIC Awards (1983)
  • Maya - Sarasaviya Film Awards (1984) & National Award for Best Film and Best Director in 1986.
  • Sagara Jalaya - OCIC Awards (1989) & Swarna Sanka Awards (1988)
  • Loku Duwa - Presidential Awards (1989) & Sarasaviya Silver Jubilee Awards (1988)
  • Duwata Mawaka Misa Presidential Awards (1996)
  • Zonta Arthur C Clark Award for Communication (1988)
  • Rana Thisara Lifetime Achievement Award (1993)[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Profile:(". 12 January 2008. Archived from the original on 25 January 2013. 
  2. ^ "Sumitra Peries a female idol". Sunday Observer (Sri Lanka). 22 September 2002. 
  3. ^ "A celebration between two celebrities". Daily News (Sri Lanka). 19 October 2002. 
  4. ^ "Keeping in touch with the French". Sunday Times (Sri Lanka, ISSN:1391-0531). 19 October 1997. 
  5. ^ "Fascinating facet of genuine original art". Sunday Observer (Sri Lanka). 16 December 2007. 
  6. ^ "Gehenu Lamai (1977)". 12 January 2008. Archived from the original on 16 May 2007. 
  7. ^ "Achievements". ( 12 January 2008. 

External links[edit]