Anomaa Rajakaruna joins international jury: International Film Festival of Kerala 

Renowned Sri Lanka filmmaker Anomaa Rajakaruna has been invited to be part of the “International Jury” at the 25th International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK), which opens in India on the 10th of this month. Through her work as a filmmaker, Rajakaruna has documented the lives of women and children and has addressed issues such as women in armed conflict, displacement, sexual harassment, and violence against women. 

Rajakaruna is the Festival Director of Jaffna International Cinema Festival, Artistic Director of Colombo International Women’s Film Festival, and Founder of Agenda 14 Short Film Festival, Colombo. She curates the Monthly Film Forum at the Goethe-Institute Colombo. Rajakaruna curated 10 editions of the European Film Festival in Sri Lanka and has served as a juror at over 20 national and international film festivals. 


The International Film Festival of Kerala 


The International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK), is one of India’s most prominent film festivals and is hosted by the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy on behalf of the Department of Cultural Affairs, Government of Kerala. Over the years, the IFFK has come to be known as Asia’s best managed and probably the world’s most people-centred film festival. The IFFK charms the best films, renowned directors, technicians, and spectators from across the globe and is acknowledged as one of India’s leading cultural events. 

The IFFK 2021 is a multi-location film festival with its first leg taking place from 10-14 February in Thiruvananthapuram and 17-21 February in Kochi, two of Kerala’s major cities. 

As part of the IFFK International Jury, Rajakaruna joins the likes of South Korean film director Kim Hong Joom, Indian film director Anoop Singh, Singaporean film critic Philip Chea, and Nigerian film director Newton Aduka. 

This is the 10th time a Sri Lankan has been selected to be part of a jury at the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK), which began in 1994, and the fourth time a Sri Lankan has qualified to be part of the main jury at the IFFK with previous Sri Lankan members of the IFFK’s International Jury including film director Tissa Abeysekera in 2002, film director Prasanna Vithanage in 2009, and film director Sumathi Sivamohan in 2018. 


Being part of the IFFK 


Speaking to The Morning Brunch on being part of the IFFK’s International Jury, Rajakaruna shared that the panel she is part of focuses on emerging filmmakers from three major continents in the film festival circuit – Central and South America, Africa, and Asia. 

The IFFK holds a special place in Rajakaruna’s heart as this is the first festival she had ever participated in as a filmmaker. “It is a pleasure to be part of this panel,” Rajakaruna said: “Especially with the other jurors, some of whom I have worked with before. It’s a pleasure to work with them. All of us bring in our own experience and way of evaluating films. Working with a very eminent jury like this, you learn a lot and you contribute as well.” Rajakruna has previously worked with Philip Chea, who himself is a programmer and curator of other international film festivals. 


The post-pandemic film festival 


Speaking briefly on film festivals and the new normal, Rajakaruna shared that the IFFK’s judging process this year, like most film festivals now, was virtual, taking the pandemic into account. “This is a difficult time,” Rajakaruna said, adding that 2020 and the pandemic have had an impact on all film festivals the world over, with some postponing, and some needing to cancel their events outright. 

“I was in two juries last year around this time, I was president of a jury at the Nepal International Film Festival, and was a juror at the International Women’s Film Festival in Dhaka. After that, everything came to a standstill. Most people postponed, but some cancelled, and others came up with solutions on how to cope with the situation.” 

In her own case, Rajakaruna revised how the Jaffna International Cinema Festival was presented, extending the programme to last three months, and assessing the health situation before holding physical presentations whenever possible. The pandemic has had a silver lining, however, with Rajakaruna sharing that with film festivals needing to be taken online, the reach of film festivals has grown drastically. “Going online brings it to an international audience,” Rajakaruna said, and this has given us room to rethink our programming. Maybe in the future, we will do online segments for film festivals. Not just us, but everyone.