A&K Lit Fest 2018

The Mount Lavinia Hotel hosted the third Annual A&K (Annasi & Kadalagotu) Literary Festival 2018 on Sunday, 21 October to much aplomb and certitude along with a host of collaborative partners.

With an extensive array of panel discussions on all things literary, methodically and timely compartmentalised into three separate halls, guests were able to choose between what subjects intrigued them the most and were not subjected to gratuitously long sessions to quell their interest in the first place.

It would be detrimental to the cause not to mention the astonishingly low cost for a ticket (Rs. 100) for an event of this magnitude. It would be safe to assume that “business as usual” was not at the forefront of the organisers’ planning process.

Most assuredly, the promotion and advancement of Sri Lankan literature was the winner at the end of the day.

The event kick started with a combination of three parallel events at which author Abdul Azeez promoted his book “The School Detective Gang” along with creative writing workshops conducted by Dileepa Abeysekara (Founding Partner at Heensare (Pvt.) Ltd. – a leading local advertising agency – and an influential creative writer and director locally for the past two decades) and Nadishka Aloysius (renowned local children’s books author) who spoke about the nuances of creative writing and the process involved alternatively for those above the age of 18 and children from 10-17 years respectively.

Following the opening ceremony, the main event began in the Empire Room, which was a discussion on “Literature in Governance – The Politics of Writing” by Sri Lankan politicians Imthiaz Bakeer Markar and Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe; they expressed some of their experiences with regards to literature.

The audience was able to interact with the panel and discuss some of the difficulties regarding acute topics such as politics, and gain some valuable insight in the process.

Gihan De Chickera, well-known cartoonist and journalist was next, as he shared some of his opinions regarding the importance of freedom of expression and portraying truth in literary form without provoking any one given section of the public when it comes to topics dealing with current affairs and politics in general.

The afternoon session began with multiple events once again. A screening of five short films by local talent was organised in the main hall, with a brief introduction on the various production crew involved. Anoja Rajapathirana, Founder of EASE Foundation, spoke on the topic of “Writing with Disabilities” where the audience was treated to some of the literary talents of “challenged” individuals, which made it a truly inspiring panel discussion.

Sunela Jayawardene, popular Sri Lankan environmental architect, spoke on her book “The Line of Lanka” and discussed some of the difficulties in promoting and popularising Sri Lankan historical stories of significance along the same lines of other countries, and other questions with regard to certain lineages of Sri Lankan people.

The session was followed by a discussion between some of the film cast and crew for popular Sinhala TV series “Koombiyo” where they discussed all things pertaining to the drama while the audience also got the opportunity to ask some questions.

Meanwhile, Megan Dhakshini, Sarah Kabir, Nathalie Fernando, and Chiranthi Rajapakse spoke about their experiences regarding writing and compiling their first book and some of the challenges they faced during the process.

The next time slot was accompanied by Rozaine Cooray, Jayani Senanayake, and Charulatha Abeysekara Thewarathanthri who shared their thoughts on literature – specifically from a feminine perspective. S.M. Banduseela, Yudhanjaya Wijeyarathne, and Navin Weerarathne spoke on their ideas and interpretations of what science fiction means in the present context and were keenly cross-examined by the audience who were very receptive to the discussion.

As the event reached its final stages, a brief outlay of tips with regard to writing, under the guise of “Cornerstone Speeches: Five Literary Tidbits in 5 minutes (or so)”, was presented before “Drama and Discussion on Lavinia” – a discussion by Mt. Lavinia Hotel representative Mohan Raj Madawala.

Before the conclusion of the event, prizes were given for the short story competition held in conjunction with the event.

By Nihan Riza