Santa Barbara, Ca (November 6, 2023) -The enchanting coastal city of Santa Barbara, California, recently played host to a truly mesmerizing event – the Ceylon International Film Festival Awards Ceremony. Supported by the State of California, the City of Santa Barbara, and the Direct Relief Foundation, This prestigious gathering brought together film enthusiasts, artists, and industry professionals from around the globe for an unforgettable night of celebration.

As attendees arrived at the historic venue, a palpable sense of excitement filled the air. The grandeur and elegance of the location,   the historic Lobero Theatre, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, perfectly complemented the Caliber of talent that awaited them inside.

Throughout the evening, it became evident that this event was not only about recognizing outstanding achievements in filmmaking but also about celebrating diversity in artistry. The stage was set to showcase some extraordinary performances by renowned artists hailing from India, Sri Lanka, Spain, and America.

The evening kicked off with a captivating performance by Indian singers who effortlessly transported the audience into a world filled with soulful melodies and rhythmic beats. Their powerful voices resonated through every corner of the venue, leaving everyone in awe.

Not to be outdone, inspiring performances by Indian artists captivated the audience with their traditional dance forms like Bharatanatyam and Kathak. Their intricate footwork, graceful movements, and expressive storytelling transported viewers to another world. The fusion of Indian classical music with contemporary beats added a modern twist to these timeless art forms, leaving everyone mesmerized.

Following this mesmerizing act was a breathtaking display by Sri Lankan dancers. Their graceful movements and intricate choreography left spectators spellbound. The fusion of traditional dance forms with contemporary elements showcased their exceptional talent and dedication to their craft.

The atmosphere reached new heights as Spanish musicians took center stage. Their passionate flamenco rhythms mingled with soul-stirring guitar solos, creating an electric ambiance that had everyone on their feet. The energy in the room was contagious as guests immersed themselves in this vibrant celebration of Spanish culture.

Their flawless execution and captivating stage presence feasted on every pair of eyes in attendance. The international collaboration showcased during these performances served as a reminder that talent knows no boundaries and that art has the power to unite people from all walks of life.

The Ceylon International Film Festival Awards Ceremony not only provided a platform for these incredible artists to showcase their talents but also celebrated the magic of cinema itself. Notable figures from the film industry graced the stage, presenting awards honoring exceptional filmmakers whose work had touched hearts and left an indelible mark on audiences worldwide. It was a grand celebration of global cinema, showcasing the best of the 350 outstanding films, short films, documentaries, and animations submitted for the competetion.

Highlighting excellence amongst the winners, Japan, China, and India emerged as shining stars, taking home multiple prestigious awards, while Sri Lanka won the coveted Grand Prix for “The Genius Of The Place” by Afdhel Aziz. Recognizing exceptional performances, Sarthy from India was awarded Best Actor for his captivating portrayal in “Ezhuthalar.” The title of Best Actress went to Kana Shimizu from Japan for her mesmerizing performance in “Happy Ending.” In the realm of direction, Passos Zamith from Portugal claimed the Best Director Award for his captivating work in “Me & Myself.” Meanwhile, Akira Iwamatsu’s masterpiece “Happy Ending” took home the highly acclaimed Best Picture Award. Sri Lanka secured additional accolades throughout the night, winning awards for Best Sound Mixing by Sashin Gimahn for “Seed,” Best Production Design by Suneth Malinga for “Seeds,” and Best Editor for “The Genius Of The Place” by Vu and Hayden Blaz.

Two Sri Lankan icons in the industry were honored with Lifetime  Achievement Awards. Bhadraji Jayatilleka, a Producer, Director, scriptwriter, and Actor, the screening of his latest film “A Rainy Day: closed the festival was recognized for his outstanding contribution to the industry as well as his work as an artist and prolific author of one hundred twenty-five books in Sinhala and English. Somarathna Dissanayake was honoured for his contribution to the industry as a Producer Director, and highly acclaimed for his outstanding drama series “Muwanpalassa,” which had a record-breaking run. These exceptional individuals have not only entertained us with their creative talents but have also inspired countless aspiring artists to pursue their dreams.  

Present among the distinguished gathering at the opening and closing festivities were the Mayor and Mayor Protem of Santa Barbara, the representatives of the California State Senator, the CEO Of Direct Relief, the President of the Santa Barbara Hispanic Chamber, and the former Deputy Director-General of the United Nations Dr. Nandi Jasentuliyana, the Keynote Speaker at the awards ceremony,

The Ceylon Film Festival 2023 Awards Ceremony is the brainchild of Aruni Boteju, Founder of the Ceylon International Film Festival Corporation, which held its inaugural festival in 2022. Her commitment to excellence, with the unwavering support from the State of California, the City of Santa Barbara, and the Direct Relief Foundation, was evident in every aspect of the event.

As the night drew to a close, it was clear that this event would be etched in the memories of those fortunate enough to attend. The Ceylon International Film Festival Awards Ceremony succeeded in creating an atmosphere of celebration, artistic appreciation, and cultural exchange that will resonate long after the curtains have fallen.