Videos Attached, Giving life to the golden ideas of our youth – Derana STARTUP 2021, Launched

Concerning the national interest of fostering a culture of entrepreneurship among Sri Lanka’s youth, Derana STARTUP 2021, the much-needed entrepreneurial TV show is now ready to showcase the Top 30 competitors. Implemented in Sri Lanka through a tripartite partnership between YouLead, USAID’s youth skill development and entrepreneurship program together with the TV Derana network and a Jordanian nonprofit organization, Partners for Good, Derana STARTUP 2021 seek to create a culture of entrepreneurial job creators while promoting demand for entrepreneurship among youth across the island.

Addressing the need of the hour, statistics show that less than 5% of Sri Lankan youth who complete technical training advance to start their own business. This is partly because Sri Lankan youth are less inclined to pursue a path down the entrepreneurial avenue as a negative social perception exists towards youth who are seeking out to be an entrepreneur. Derana STARTUP 2021 seeks to break through this unfortunate stigma through an exciting and competitive TV program. By attracting youth to share what could be potentially groundbreaking ideas with the masses, a culture of entrepreneurship will be introduced to Sri Lanka. Working for the man is no longer what drives our youth, being your boss will become a reality through Derana STARTUP 2021 and youth unemployment will be an issue of years gone by.

Derana STARTUP 2021 is called out to all youth entrepreneurs below the age of 35 who have an innovative product or service with business operations not exceeding over 24 months under the entry categories of individual, group and school levels. Over 4000 applications were received representing a diverse applicant pool. The applications were reviewed by a selection committee consisting of industry professionals and academics based on several factors including but not limited to the level of innovativeness and creativity of the product or service, commercial viability, potential competitiveness, sustainability, employment generation, social acceptance and the potential to expand the business. The top 30 finalists were selected from four selection rounds and went through various training and development workshops. They were also assigned a successful industry leader as mentors to develop and guide their entrepreneurial journey. The top 30 finalists are now ready to present their entrepreneurial projects to the general public through the TV reality show Derana STARTUP 2021. The program telecasts on Saturday 9.30 PM, Sunday 8.30 AM on Ada Derana 24 Channel and Monday 11 AM on TV Derana starting from the 8th of January 2022. The LIVE online telecast will be broadcast on Saturday at 9.30 PM on Ada Derana 24 Youtube channel. The viewers can vote for the best entrepreneurial project through SMS. The winners get to take home a cash prize of LKR 4 Million.

Derana STARTUP 2021’s end goal is to use this innovative approach to support innovation, increase the outreach, change behaviors, perceptions and increase demand for entrepreneurship while creating a support network, mentoring culture and access to resources which will, in turn, provide the required support for youth to become innovative entrepreneurs. For more details on the program, interested parties may visit

Project launched, click on the link below to watch the video:

Watch the video of the first three contestants:

For more information contact:
Natalie Samarasinghe-94 71 321 1138 or
Keshini Wijegoonaratna- 213-400-7705 or

Sheraton Kosgoda Turtle Beach Resort celebrates X’mas

Sheraton Kosgoda Turtle Beach Resort heralded the festivities with their annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in the company of guests, team members and media personnel. This being the very first tree lighting ceremony after the opening of its doors to the public, the occasion surely spread the holiday cheer and brought in a magical start to the festivities.

Patrons were greeted with the melodious carolling of children from Our Lady of Lourdes Church of Halpatota, with whole-hearted renditions of cheerful performance from the young group of choristers. The delightful evening brought joy not only to the children but to all those present. Sheraton Kosgoda Turtle Beach Resort’s mesmerizing tree lighting ceremony was graced by Santa himself, who paid a surprise visit with gifts for children. The Christmas tree was adorned with sparkling lights and rich ornaments, bringing in the true feeling of Christmas. The evening progressed to cheerful chatter with the gathering of guests and patrons being hosted to homemade snacks and drinks.

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‘Moods of Christmas’ for this December

Standard Chartered Sri Lanka has partnered with the Soul Sounds Academy for a second consecutive year to add more glamour to this festive season with an evening of traditional Christmas Carols, in collaboration with the Cinnamon Grand Colombo. The 17th edition of ‘Moods of Christmas’ – presented by the renowned all-female choral ensemble directed by veteran vocal coach Soundarie David Rodrigo – will take place on December 21 from 7 pm at the Atrium at Cinnamon Grand Colombo.

Aroshana Fernando, Head of Consumer, Private & Business Banking for Standard Chartered Sri Lanka, commenting on the partnership said, “We are honoured to be partnering with Soul Sounds for the second consecutive year to present ‘Moods of Christmas’ with the aim of spreading the joy and glamour during this Christmas season. As we mark the end of yet another challenging year, it is important to keep the spirits high while adhering to health guidelines currently in place. Standard Chartered will always remain committed to having the best interests of our clients at heart and this partnership is part of our efforts to provide the best Christmas experience, not just for our Priority clientele but also for the other participants. We hope this festive season brings many blessings to you and your families and wish the New Year brings new hope and beginnings.”

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Aruni Wijesinghe, California-based Poet, set to release collection in 2022

Aruni Wijesinghe is a Sri Lankan-American writer. A project manager, ESL teacher, occasional sous chef and erstwhile belly dance instructor. She holds a BA in English an AA in dance and a certification in TESOL. Aruni is a native New Yorker, born in the Bronx and raised in Rockland County, New York and Orange County, California.

Her work has been published in journals and anthologies both nationally and internationally. She has a solo poetry collection forthcoming with Moon Tide Press and (2022) and a duet collection with Picture Show Press (2022). Most notably, her first full-length poetry collection is due for release in April of 2022. Titled 2 Revere Place, this collection of memoir in verse is a love song to her family; the subject matter is the first ten years of her family’s life in the U.S. and tackles subjects ranging from cultural identity to assimilation to the challenges of being an immigrant family in the United States during the 1970s. Though these poems are not her first publication, this volume is her first solo collection.

Aruni is the daughter of Drs. Nandi and Neelakshi Wijesinghe, and sister to Ashini Wijesinghe Harris and Dr. Manik Wijesinghe. Her parents were both raised in Galle, attended medical school in Sri Lanka, and immigrated to the United States in 1969. They made their first home in New York state, where their three children were born, then made the move across country to Southern California in 1979. Dr. Nandi Wijesinghe established his private practice in Obstetrics and Gynecology with specialty in Perinatology in Orange County while Dr. Neelakshi Wijesinghe worked as a Pediatrician and top administrator for the Orange County Health Department. Dr. Nandi Wijesinghe is the recipient of the Sri Lanka Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award for 2012.

She lives and writes in Orange County, California with her husband Jeff and their cats Jack and Josie.

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Sri Lankan dramatist’s “Untouched” awarded Best Monodrama at Egypt Theatre Festival

“Untouched”, written and directed by Sri Lankan dramatist Sujeewa Pathinisekara and presented by Inter Act Art theatre has been selected as the Best Monodrama at Sham Al Sheik International Theatre Festival held at Sham Al Sheikh city in Egypt.

Sham Al Sheik international Theatre Festival was held under four categories, consecutively Street Drama, Special Space Theatre, Ensemble Theatre and Monodrama. A total of 21 countries participated in this festival selected from 302 applications.

“Untouched” represented the monodrama category and received Mohamed Sayyed Al Afkam Award, the only award presented to the said category. Sri Lankan representation “Untouched” has won this award in the competitive round with international acknowledgment and fame.

The “Untouched” monodrama, performed by Subuddhi Lakmali, is choreographed by M. Safeer.

Sagara Wijesinghe created music for the monodrama and while Wasantha Kumara and Sujeewa Pathinisekara served as lighting designers. Stage management was handled by Nirosh Kavirathna, M Sharaf and M shafraz.

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Two Sri Lankans break through into the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year list…

Two Sri Lankan photographers were highly endorsed during this year’s BBC Wild Photographer of the Year 2021. It is ‘The Great Swim’ by the Sri Lankan- Australian Buddhilini de Zoysa and the ‘Lockdown Chicks’ by 10-year-old Gagana Mendis Wickramasinghe. Those photographs popped up highly impressive  50,000 entries from 95 countries.

There were a record number of entries to this year’s BBC Wild Photographer of the Year 2021, organized for the 57th consecutive time by the Natural History Museum in London. The rest of the stunning selection of photographs included ‘Apollo landing’, ‘Toxic Design’, ‘Raw Moment’, ‘Deep feelers’, ‘Lynx on the threshold’, ‘Natural Magnetism’, and ‘Net Loss’.  It is also the museum’s showcase for the world’s best nature photography. Though highly commended entries have been announced ahead of the overall winners, the grand title winner of the competition is yet to be announced on 12 October.

More information on

‘Tsunami’ bags two big awards at Bayelsa International Film Festival

Sri Lankan film director, screenwriter, and producer Somaratne Dissanayake won the award for Best Director (Tsunami).

At the same time, actress Niranjani Shanmugaraja won the award for Best Actress at the Bayelsa International Film Festival 2021.

Tsunami (Sinhala: සුනාමි) is a 2020 Sri Lankan Sinhala disaster drama film directed by Somaratne Dissanayake and produced by his wife Renuka Balasooriya for Cine Films Lanka.

It stars Niranjani Shanmugaraja and Darshan Dharmaraj in lead roles along with Himali Sayurangi and Bimal Jayakody and the Music composed by Rohana Weerasinghe.

The film is based on incidents that occurred in Sri Lanka during the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami on 26 December 2004.

In October 2020, the film has qualified to represent the competition section of the Bayelsa International Film Festival in Yonago, Nigeria.

For more information:

Aruni Boteju, Founder of Ceylon International Film Festival Corporation Launched with Tea Ceremony in Santa Barbara, California!

Aruni Boteju, Founder of the Ceylon International Film Festival Corporation launched the Sri Lanka Film Festival this week in Santa Barbara, U.S.A. with a Tea Ceremony. Santa Barbara, the city of arts and culture is considered the Riviera of America, the home of the famous Santa Barbara film festival.

Present among the large gathering of guests were the Mayor of Santa Barbara, Ms Cathy Murillo, Honorable Consul General of Sri Lanka, Dr Lalith Chandradasa, Director of Direct Relief International, Dean Axelrod, Direct Relief Emergency Officer Chris Alleway, Dr Nandi Jasentuliyana, former Deputy Director General of the United Nations, Samantha Kurera, the President of the Sri Lanka America Association, Keshini Wijegoonaratna, the Director of Project Management & Public Relations of the Sri Lanka Foundation International, Aruni Ganewatta, the Founder of the Sri Lanka Youth Organization, USA, Miguel Avilla, Santa Barbara Hispanic Chamber.

Let me first complement Aruni Boteju for organizing the planned film festival and its launch today. Aruni is constantly engaged in social service promoting the arts and also her motherland by coming up with creative ways of accomplishing her projects, and today’s event is no exception. Thank you all for sponsoring and supporting her commendable initiative in organizing the planned film festival.

I have been asked to briefly give you the background and contextualize the forthcoming festival. The Finest Island in the World- That’s how Marco Polo, the famous explorer, described it on his travel accounts. He landed in 1292 AD and was one of the many famous travelers who visited the country that was called ‘The Pearl of the Indian Ocean.

The Island’s history is well recorded in the chronicles and extensive archaeological evidence. There sits a host of ancient monuments, Buddhist structures such as stupas, and historical royal cities that once served as the center of early Kingdoms of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa and served the Sinhalese people and civilization. As a result, the Island offers some of the best-preserved historical and cultural archaeological sites comparable to any in the world, with five UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which have attracted streams of tourists.

The Island of Sri Lanka is also home to tropical forests, and a wealth of endemic flora and fauna, with mesmerizing highlands and pristine beaches and naturally been the location for many western movies, including the Oscar Winning movies – Bridge over River Kawi, Elephant Walk and notably, Stephen Spielberg’s Temple of Doom.

Ceylon was introduced to the films early in the 19th century by the British occupants when the first film screening happened in 1901, and in 1903, photographer A.W. Andree, of Jaffna in northern Sri Lanka, was the first Ceylonese to form a local film company – Coric Bioscope. Having acquired a projector from abroad and gained access to an auditorium, he began to screen silent films from Europe.

Later, Madan, an Indian theatre and film producer, began building cinemas. By the 1930s, he owned an expansive network of cinemas of his company Madan Theatres Ltd. These venues predominantly screened Indian films and, in doing so, took some of the focus away from imported European films.

1947 marked the debut of the first film produced by a Sri Lankan called “Kadawunu Poronduwa,” or The ‘Broken Promise.’ This marked a new era for the industry, and with time a slew of films followed, and a number of them have won international recognition.  In the first decade since then, most films were made in South India, with Indian-style sets erected in film studios. Several artistic Sinhala films were also made in the late-1960s including Sath Samudura by Professor Siri Gunasinghe.During the 1970s, several talented productions came to the forefront while commercial cinema continued to steal storylines and plots from Indian films. Over the next few decades, artists attempted to breathe new life into the industry.

These include Dr. D.B. Nihalsingha with “Weilkatara”- Sri Lanka’s first film in Cinemascope ratio wide screen in 1972; Vasantha Obeysekera who followed up his well-received debut Ves Gatho culminating with Palangetiyo in 1979. Another major director who stepped forward during this time is Dharmasena Pathiraja who examined the tensions of city youth in such works as Bambaru Awith and Ahas Gauwa. Over the next few decades, artists such as Tissa Abeysekara, Chandran Rutnam, Udayakantha Warnasooriya, H.D.Premaratne, and Ashoka Handagama, continued keep the spotlight on the Sri Lankan movie industry. ably supported by exquisite cinematography by Dr. D.B. Nihalsinghe and other brilliant cinemetographers.

The most prestigious and influential filmmaker in the country, Dr. Lester James Peries, was the first to reach for the stars and achieve global acclaim. With many awards to his name, he was the first Sri Lankan to earn the prestigious award at the Venice Film Festival in 1972. Several other movies by leading producers have been shown at the Cannes, Venice, and London film festivals. Lester’s wife Sumitra Peries, an icon on her own right, also struck out during the 1970s with work that looked at the conflicting roles of women in society in Gehenu Lamai ‘Girls’ and Ganga Addara ‘By the River’. Sri Lanka’s film industry has been a fountain of fine literary films. Most of these works are based on Sinhala literature with controversial themes such as family relations, terrorism, abortions, and anguish. During and following Sri Lankan Civil War that ended in 2009, several films began to explore gritty subjects such as the results of the conflict between the military and brutal Tamil Tigers in the north. Sri Lankan cinema encompasses the films made almost exclusively in Sri Lanka both in Sinhala and Tamil, and the cinema has now become a flourishing industry.

The forthcoming festival is designed to depict the rich and vibrant canvas of Sri Lanka’s films made through the creative eyes of the award-winning Producers, Directors, writers, and actors, who are oureyes to the world, and who put our world in the broader context of history and act as advocates of a range of issues that impact society. They also call our attention to the things we miss in our everyday lives, and they call our attention to places, events, and people at a great distance from our own patch of the universe, as will be demonstrated by the films to be screened at the planned festival.

Excerpt of the keynote speech made by Dr. Nandi Jasentuliyana, former Deputy Director General of the United Nations.

Video Attached!!SLF Intl, USA Showcases 2021 Sri Lanka Day, One of a Kind Virtual Event!!!!! to the Global Audience

When 2021 Sri Lanka Day celebrations began many people logged in to the SLF Platform on August 20th from all around the world and entered the lobby were simply flabbergasted to witness such a detailed creation, with the information center, the Auditorium Exhibition hall, and the Networking lounge. The entrance to the Auditorium door opens and you are lead to the roof top in a elevator which is never seen any virtual event before. It was also breathtaking to see the creation of the virtual people moving around in the lobby and in their seats in the Auditorium and Networking lounge.

The attendees had the choice of deciding which segment of their interest and was able to enjoy it from the comfort of their homes.The five hour Amazing Cultural Performances from all over the world was viewed and enjoyed by many when some of the other Attendees were visiting and chatting with Vendors in the Exhibition Hall and the networking lounge was busy with people trying to connect.

The event continued on August 21st & 22nd, with excitement building up to win quiz prizes when our amazing live mc’s promoted enthusiasm and anticipation among the attendees to stay until the very end.

The “Pageant of Lanka” was showcased to give a feel of the original Parade that is hosted on the World Famous Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena.

We appreciate our Sponsors for their contributions to support the event as well as showcasing their products. Our heartfelt gratitude goes to all the volunteers for their valuable time to assist in many different ways.

The event ended with a Big Bang by the band “Sithara” to entertain the attendees with some nice Sihala Music.

Click on the link to watch the video:

Tsunami’ wins two int’l awards

Sri Lankan movie ‘Tsunami’ has bagged two top awards at the Bayelsa International Film Festival 2021 in Nigeria.

Dr. Somaratne Dissanayake, who directed the film, won the award for the best director.

Niranjani Shanmugaraja, who played its female lead role won the best actress award.

The film is based on incidents that occurred in Sri Lanka during the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami.

For more information: