Aruni Boteju

In recognition of spearheading the Ceylon International Film Festival and charitable contributions in the U.S. and Sri Lanka

We awarded Aruni Boteju because of her work in creating the Ceylon International Film Festival, a film festival that shares Sri Lankan culture with the world. Her success in charitable causes has made an organizational and monetary impact in helping the U.S. and Sri Lanka.

Aruni Boteju was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and she is the oldest of three daughters of Manel and Ariyadasa Horanage. She attended Buddhist Ladies Collage, Colombo 7, which laid the foundation for her academic pursuits. In her teenage years, her family relocated to Santa Barbara, California. She continued her studies at Santa Barbara City College and subsequently achieved a bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of Phoenix.

Aruni is the Founder and CEO of the Ceylon International Film Festival (CEYIFF). The CEYIFF is a non-profit arts and educational organization founded in 2021. It is the first Sri Lankan film festival organized outside of Sri Lanka. Their first festival was held in June 2022, and they received 315 submissions from 44 countries. A second successful festival was held in October 2023, and now the CEYIFF is getting ready for its 3rd annual film festival to be held in 2024.

The CEYIFF has received numerous awards. Among those received were a Congressional Award from Congressman Salud Carbajal, the Recognition Award from Sri Lankan Consular General to West Coast, a City of Santa Barbara Proclamation certificate from Mayor Randy Rowes, and a State of California Recognition Certificate from Senator Monique Limone and State Assemblyman Greg Hart.

Aruni is a successful banker by trade, and she has received numerous awards in business and for her charitable endeavors. Aruni is dedicated to helping all communities by taking leadership roles in many organizations. She was a board member of the Spirit of Women Entrepreneurship organization and Women’s Economic Ventures. She is currently a Board Member of the Santa Barbara Rotary Foundation and a Board Member of the Greater Santa Barbara Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Aruni is passionate about many charitable causes. In 2014, she started by working with the Santa Barbara Domestic Violence High Tea Committee. During the COVID-19 pandemic, her praiseworthy efforts contributed to Direct Relief, sending significant support through medical supplies to Sri Lanka. More recently, during the economic crisis in Sri Lanka, she coordinated with Direct Relief again to provide needed support. Currently, she is working towards establishing a Sister City Program between Santa Barbara and the city of Colombo, Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lanka Foundation thanks Aruni Boteju for spearheading the Ceylon International Film Festival and sharing Sri Lankan cinema with film lovers all over the world. In addition, her volunteer work and efforts have benefitted both the U.S. and Sri Lanka, making her a true Srimerican!