Toboggan Lodge, 38 Forest Home Drive
ICM Film Series
Filmmaker and Art Photographer; Fulbright Scholar, South Asia Program, Cornell University
Children of Cemetery Dwellers (28 minutes) chronicles the lives of children living in shanties at a cemetery in Veyangoda City, Sri Lanka. The slum sprang up in the 1950s, and its inhabitants struggle to survive, even with minimal basic needs. Children are malnourished and have no access to education; they are not allowed to enroll in nearby schools. They have been marginalized ethnically, socially, economically, and culturally due to the fact that they are Tamil. Simply put, this community is caught in a vicious circle of poverty. The film attempts to portray the limits of upward social mobility in the context of education and marginalization. It discusses the way in which existing social structures systematically exclude and restrict marginalized communities from entering onto the path of development. It also reflects how women recognize the importance of education as a way to move out of poverty and how they have been prevented from pursuing it. Through the unfolding discussions, the film also portrays the way in which ethnic and racial prejudices come into play.
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Waruni Anuruddhika is an independent Sri Lankan filmmaker and art photographer. She began her career as an art photographer in 1996 and followed a three-year diploma course at the National Photographic Art Society of Sri Lanka. Her first solo photography exhibition, Contested Space, was held in 2007 at the Harold Peiris Gallery, Colombo. Waruni has focused on filmmaking since 2011 and completed a diploma specializing in cinematography in film and television at the Sri Lanka Television Training Institute. In 2012 she was given an award by International Movies that Matters in Netherlands. Her most distinguished films include Sea is Our Life, Victoria Home, and Children of Cemetery Dwellers, and have garnered her international recognition as a documentary filmmaker. Gifts and Visions is her first feature length documentary and looks at human tissue donation in Sri Lanka.
Currently, Waruni is continuing research for a photographic book on ritualistic worship of the goddess Pattini in a marginalized community in urban Sri Lanka, which is based on her documentary film Children of Cemetery Dwellers. The project garnered her a Fulbright scholarship award for 2016-2017. Two of her solo photographic exhibitions related to the same research, Pattini: A Photographic Journey through the Ritualistic Worship of Goddess Pattini and Look at Me, are currently exhibited at the Mario Einaudi Center for International studies and Willard Straight Gallery, Cornell University.