Directed by: #RangaBandaranayake
The Silence Short Movie Review
The Silence is a production of the Department of Government Information and the Drama Unit of Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation. Written by Chamara Prasanna Kodithuwakku and directed by Ranga Bandaranayake, The Silence is a film that focuses on the struggle of the families of the people who have “disappeared” in Sri Lanka due to the civil war.
The short starts with a woman, Kanthilatha (Malkanthi Ranasinghe), cleaning the picture of her son that we later understand has been missing for 25 years. She hitches a lift in a tractor to the city in order to look for him. Her pain is tangible and her eyes hold an amount of sorrow no human should ever endure. The sequence cuts to different characters holding tight pictures of different men – inviting the audience into their reality, as bad as it is.
Introducing to the characters and the situation, Bandaranayake contrasts two characters perfectly - Kanthilatha, who they call Aunty, and a younger girl (Divya Sharika Pigera) are both going to the city in the back of a tractor – however, they have different reasons for their journey. The young woman asks the driver to go back because she has lost her phone, but Aunty pleads them not to because she needs to look for her son and cannot afford to lose any more time than she already has. The young woman calls Aunty selfish and asks her how it is possible that she is still searching for her son after so long. Here, the director shows us how the suffering is still very much alive in the families’ hearts but how the young generation is forgetting their history and the disappearances. Despite the lack of support she receives, Aunty is still fighting to keep the memory of her son – and all the others who have suffered the same fate – alive.
The acting in The Silence, especially from the older cast (Malkanthi Ranasinghe and Kamala Sri Mohan) is outstanding. These two characters are depicted as broken yet hopeful, their looks and gestures convey grief that makes it impossible for the audience to ignore their pain, making us question how the younger characters are able to do so.
Ranga Bandaranayake has a vast experience in working for television, especially in films, both fiction and documentaries that touch on human rights, having as a statement: “Born for people, Live for people, Work for people, Expire for people.” In The Silence he asks us not to judge others’ suffering without looking at their history and what they have gone through. Moreover, he appeals for the people not to forget the disappeared. The result is a beautiful film that was made with heart.