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 ‘Children of Cemetery Dwellers’

Ganre – Creative Documentary, Duration 28 min.

Chathuranga and his friend-DSC03991


This film is about the life Children who are living in shanties at a cemetery in Veyangada city. They have been living in this slum since 1950’s and struggling to survive with minimal basic needs. Children are malnutrition and have no access to education. They have been marginalized ethnically, socially, economically and culturally. Furthermore, children are being refused to be enrolled to the schools, even next to their community. This is mainly due to the fact that they are slum dwellers. Cemetery is the place for dwelling and recreation of lives and playground for the children.

Many people earn their livelihood by working as garbage collectors. The entire community is marginalized by the rest of the population at Veyangoda, simply due to the fact that they are Tamil. School dropout rate is high as a result of economic pressure to find a job. Many Girls leave the school at early age around 15 or 16 in order to marry someone to overcome the economic pressure. Simply, this community is caught into vicious circle of poverty.

Film attempts to portray limits for upward social mobility in the context of education and marginalization. It will discuss the way in which existing social structures systematically exclude and restrict the marginalized communities entering into the path of development. It also reflects how women recognize the importance of education as a way move out of poverty and has been prevented from them. Through the unfolding discussions, and narratives film will portray the way in which ethnic and racial prejudices also come into play.

Director’s Note

“When I got down at the Veyangoda Station It was nearly noon. It was not much difficult to find the dwelling of the people who are living in the graveyard. The slum is situated at the edge of a small cemetery and abandoned paddy field. The community was separated from the other villages’ by the brick wall. The community center adjoined to the wall is being used by the village next to them and slum dwellers have been prevented to access it. There are two toilets in front of the slum. First three houses are lined together and each of the house are decorated with paintings. A small statue of a god is placed on a triangular shape structure which is placed on a pillar. When I approach to them, there were three women were sitting on doorways and husking arricanuts. I went to them and say hello. They were bit surprised by my arrival but smiled with me accepting manner and ask what you are looking for? I spoke to one of the women and explain who I am and the reason for me to visit them. I was invited to her home and later I got to know that she is 41 years old and works as a laborer at Srisanda Hospital Nittambuwa. Her husband is a laborer at Town Council in Veyangoda. They have two daughters and a sun. She took me around the slum and introduced me to her neighbors.
Most of the women were at home since many of them do not have regular jobs. Some women were husking arriconut and some were cooking and some were watching TV while babies were sleeping in a cradle which made by sarees hanging in the roof. All the people welcome me warmly and spoke one after another. Each and everybody had so many questions, request and explanations. They showed me their dwellings and explained me their lives. Most of the characteristics of the houses are common to the shanties in many parts of the country. Yet they have interesting stories to tell people. I am going to let them to speak to the other in through this film.”

As a documentary film maker, I am interested in exploring human lives and the cultural diversity of the people. At the same time, I am interested in depict the struggle of people who are living in a vulnerable social settings. As a documentary film maker, my practice is to create a space in my film to allow under privilege people and communities to surface their voices and raise their issues and perspectives towards the world. Following that, in my first documentary film, ‘Sea is Our Life’, I attempted to show the vulnerability and risk of the people who are living in Angulana beach and their struggle for livelihood and survival. My second film, ‘Victoria Home’, which was won the best film award in Agenda 14 film festival, discusses the social and cultural construction of the idea of disability from the perspective of disable people. In that film, I attempted to allow them to express the way in which they perceive their physical disability and their experiences of being disable and the way in which other people respond to them. Thus, for me documentary film is always a tool which can be utilized to record the particular moment of a human history or event as well as a tool which can be utilized to mobilize or educate people.
In this film I am intending to do a short documentary film to support the idea of ‘Development’ base on the narratives and visuals of ethnically, socially, economically and culturally, marginalized group. In this film, I intends to show how these marginalized people being felt the exclusions by the other communities and their struggle for survival. The film will discuss the idea of exclusion and the importance of education from their perspectives. The film will not directly discuss what ‘exclusion’ ‘marginalization’ or ‘education’ mean. Those are the academic technical terms scholars have coined to denote certain experiences theoretically. But, my intention is to show how these terms are evolving through their dialogues and how it has been restricted or prevented from wellbeing.

Waruni Anuruddhika

Director and Script writer  :Waruni Anuruddhika

Director of Photography    :Waruni Anuruddhika

Editor and Sound Designer : Sanka Malwattha

Sound Recordist : Vishvajith Ekanayaka

Produced by : Agenda 14

© CEPA/AGENDA 14/Waruni Anuruddhika Chandrasena 2014

ScreeningsAug 8 2021 Online

Film Screening and Discussion
Presents by Chelvanayakam Memorial Trust – Jaffna
Discussion theme: Education, Identity and Social Exclusion

Panelist – Ms. Ni yanthini Kadirgamar –  Researcher and Phd Student in Education University of Massachusetts, Amherst.  Mr.Muththulingam Director Institute of Social Development (ISD)

November 28 2020 Online

screening followed by a panel discussion with the participation of Dr H Karim Khan (Controller of Examinations, University of Baltistan Skardu, Pakistan)Dr Jagath Bandara Pathirage (Senior lecturer in Anthropology Dept. of Sociology, University of Colombo)Krishantha Fedricks (Senior Lecturer in Linguistics Dept. of Sinhala, University of Colombo)

Thanthai Chelva Auditorium – Jaffna ( January 23 2020)

Institute of Contemporary Modernity , University of Cornell , USA , May 2017

Screening followed by panel discussion

Colombo International Women’s Film Festival 2019

Theertha International Artist Collective , Colombo

International Centre for Ethnic Studies , Colombo  February 2016

Agenda 14 Short fFilm Festival 2014, Colombo

Poster 4-24-36