A Letter of Fire: A Controversial Sri Lankan Film about Family and Society
A Letter of Fire (Aksharaya) is a 2005 French-Sri Lankan adult drama film directed by Asoka Handagama. The film explores the complex and taboo relationships within an affluent Sri Lankan family, as well as the social and political issues that affect them.
The film centers on a 12-year-old boy (Isham Samzudeen), who is the son of a famous female magistrate (Piyumi Samaraweera) and a retired High Court judge (Ravindra Randeniya). The boy is caught watching porn with a friend at school, and later stabs a prostitute in an abandoned building, thinking she is a police officer. He then hides in the National Museum, where he meets a girl who becomes his companion. Meanwhile, his mother tries to protect him from the law, while also revealing a shocking secret about their family history.
A Letter of Fire is a provocative and daring film that challenges the norms and values of Sri Lankan society. It depicts the sexual and emotional repression, the corruption and violence, and the historical and cultural conflicts that shape the lives of its characters. The film also questions the role of art and history in a country that is struggling with its identity and future.
The film was banned in Sri Lanka for its explicit and controversial content, and faced censorship and legal issues in other countries as well. However, it also received critical acclaim and recognition at international film festivals, such as the Tokyo International Film Festival and the San SebastiÃn Film Festival. A Letter of Fire is a film that does not shy away from controversy, but rather uses it as a means to explore the human condition.
A Letter of Fire has received mixed reviews from critics and audiences, who have praised its artistic merit and boldness, but also criticized its graphic and disturbing scenes and its lack of coherence and clarity. Some reviewers have compared the film to the works of David Lynch, Lars von Trier, and Michael Haneke, for its use of surrealism, symbolism, and violence to create a dark and unsettling atmosphere.
The film has also sparked controversy and debate in Sri Lanka and abroad, for its portrayal of incest, pedophilia, homosexuality, and other taboo subjects. The film was banned by the Sri Lankan government in 2006, after a complaint from a Buddhist monk who claimed that the film insulted Buddhism and the country's culture. The director and the producer were arrested and charged with obscenity and inciting religious hatred, but were later released on bail. The film was also censored or banned in other countries, such as India, France, and Canada.
Despite the controversy and censorship, A Letter of Fire has also gained recognition and appreciation from various film festivals and organizations, such as the Tokyo International Film Festival, where it won the Special Jury Prize in 2005; the San SebastiÃn Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Golden Shell in 2005; and the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI), which awarded it the Best Asian Film Prize in 2006. A Letter of Fire is a film that challenges the viewer to confront their own prejudices and assumptions, and to question the boundaries between art and reality. 0efd9a6b88