Late Donald Karunaratne

For his excellence as a renowned Cinematographer.

The late Donald Karunaratna is Awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for his legendary contributions to the development of Sinhala cinema since the early 1960s.

Donald Karunaratna was a Gurukula College in Kelaniya student and attended the University of Visual and Performing Arts (Haywood) in Colombo. He was also the visiting lecturer for the University of Sri Lanka, Moratuwa, and a lecturer at the Sri Lanka Television Training Institute (SLTTI). In addition, he conducted workshops at the University of Sri Lanka, Peradeniya.

Donald Karunaratna pioneered color films and used innovative lighting techniques in color and black & white filming. He is the most renowned Cinematographer in Sri Lanka, with the most Awards and accolades. He won an International film Critics Award for Best Cinematographer for the first movie he did, “Ahas Guava,” in 1974, and he won other awards for many other movies. He has worked in over 100 films throughout his almost 50-year career.

All movie directors recognized him in Sri Lanka because of his Vision in coordinating all of the departments and his excellent partnership with the directors. Donald Karunaratna was the first cameraman trained using the Arriflex Camera in Germany. He was the only cinematographer selected to work for the prestigious BBC and other International Productions.

He has won 19 best cinematographer awards and, in 2017, was honored with the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the nation’s film industry. Karunarathna has worked as a cinematographer on over 60 films, including productions by directors like Lester James Peiris, Dharmasena Pathiraja, Vasantha Obeysekera, Sumitra Peiris, and Tissa Abeysekara.

Some of his notable works are Ahas Gauwa (1974), Ahasin Polawata (1978), Karumakkarayo (1980), Ganga Addara (1980), and Kaliyugaya (1981). Karunarathna also worked on Dadayama (1983), Golu Muhude Kunatuwa (1991), and Ponmani (1993). His more recent movies include Sakkarang (2016), Vaishnawi (2017), and Sikuru Yogaya (2019).

Donald completed the following Tele-dramas:
Saman Thanna, Bodima, Ran Doratuwa, Sihina Sithuwan

International Films Completed:
Village by the Sea(BBC Production), Once Upon a time, North & South Dialogue, Buddhism Over Asia, God Cannot Do It.

Donald also was the second unit Cameraman for the following International Films:
Three Yellow Cats, Green Emerald, Indiana Jones Temple of Doom, and Elephant Boy.

Sri Lanka Foundation International says farewell to the late Donald Karunaratna and pays tribute to his invaluable contribution to the Development of Sinhala Cinema.