Asoka Handagama is a Sri Lankan filmmaker. He obtained his primary and secondary schooling in a provincial school and went on to study Mathematics at the University of Kelaniya (province of Colombo) where he was awarded a first class honours degree. He obtained his MSc in Development Economics at Warwick University in 1995. He is also the Assistant Governor of the Sri Lankan Central Bank.
Chanda Kinnarie was his debut effort in cinema. Breaking the rules of so-called realism, this film clearly indicated the formation of a cinematic language consisting of hyper-realistic images. The film won the Award for Most Promising Director at the Critics’ awards in 1994. It was also awarded Best Film, Best Director and Best Screenplay at the 1998 OCIC awards. Asoka Handagama’s academic background in mathematics and development economics has stood him in good stead as an artist. Certainly it has helped him tackle the technical intricacies of film, television and the theatre, and to use these forms to maximum creative effect. More importantly this background has enabled him to sort out his priorities as a creative artiste who is conscious of the joys, sorrow and contradictions of daily life around him. Asoka Handagama is acutely aware of the social origins and implications of his work as a film and video maker.
These two acute concerns for the technical and the social in the movie making have not made it easy for him in his career. When he made his second film, Moon Hunt (1996), he used the experienced Japanese cinematographer Akira Takada because this film needed a specialist lighting camera technique, as the story of the whole film takes place at night. Handagama came in for a lot of criticism from his local colleagues for using a foreign cinematographer. It won 6 main awards from Sri Lanka Film Critic’s Forum awarded for Best Film, Best Director, Best Script, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Cinematography in 2000. Unfortunately for some technical reasons the film did not come out to theatres in Sri Lanka.
His works started to attract independent film festival audience around the world with his movie Me Mage Sandai. Veteran Sri Lankan filmmaker Dr. Lester James Peiris named this work as the landmark film which launched the third revolution in Sri Lankan cinema. It was a bold revelation of impact of the war in rural life in the country. Novel in the form, this minimalist film travelled all around the world, was critically acclaimed at more than 50 international film festivals, and won numerous awards in Singapore, Chonju, Delhi, Houston, Bangkok and Tokyo. The film also gained critical success in Europe, and has been considered as one of “the most outstanding revelations of the decade” by the prestigious French Film Review “Les Cahiers du Cinéma”.
1. Mgatha (1989)
The Best Original Play, the Director and the Scriptwriter at the State Drama Festival 1989.
2. Hena (1987)
First runner-up for The Best Original Script at the State Drama Festival 1987.
3. Bhumika (1985)
Best Original Play at the National Youth Awards 1985
- Let Her Cry (2016)
- Ini Avan (2012)
- Vidhu (2010)
- Aksharaya A Letter of Fire (2005)
- Flying With One Wing (2002)
- Me Mage Sandai This is My Moon (2000)
- Moon Hunt (1996)
- Chanda Kinnarie