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Fri, 12 Jan


ICES Auditorium

Not So Greener Pastures Crossing Oceans: Sri Lanka to Timor Leste

Documentary and Discussion

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Not So Greener Pastures Crossing Oceans:  Sri Lanka to Timor Leste
Not So Greener Pastures Crossing Oceans:  Sri Lanka to Timor Leste

Time & Location

12 Jan 2024, 16:30 – 18:40

ICES Auditorium, 2 Kynsey Terrace, Colombo 8


About the Event

A film by Udan Fernando

Four young men, hailing from the four corners of Sri Lanka, leave behind the country’s conflict-ridden shores at the turn of the new century to rebuild their lives in an unusual destination and lesser-known country -Timor-Leste. Driven by personal aspirations as much as the war, they seek to rebuild their lives amongst the ruins of Timor Leste, a country in the shadows of a long-drawn history of colonialism, occupation, and conflict. Nearly twenty years on, the four men recount their - at times - harrowing journeys to gain a foothold in an obscure “greener pasture”, highlighting their camaraderie and the underlying tensions in relationships, the everyday struggles of living in dissonance and the seemingly random events that unexpectedly shape their lives. Interspersed with insights into Timor Leste’s history of conflict, the documentary presents as outsiders, how these domiciled individuals anchored themselves in a new land by navigating and negotiating a scarred political and economic terrain not dissimilar to what they chose to leave behind.

Documentary | 59 mts | Sinhala, Tamil. Tetum & English | With English Subtitles | October 2023 | Dili, Colombo & Singapore

Screened so far in :   London (Première), The Hague, Siem Reap, Colombo and Melbourne     “In his latest film, Not So Greener Pastures, Udan Fernando explores the varied experiences of Sri Lankan émigrés to the Southeast Asian Island nation of Timor-Leste. Juxtaposing interviews and expert commentary with contemporary images and historical footage, viewers are presented with a series of unique perspectives on the country’s first two decades of independence. Tracing the intertwined histories of war, migration and financial hardship, Fernando’s film highlights personal struggle, but also an attenuated hope, as the film’s protagonists work to create new lives and opportunities for the future—from opening restaurants and selling imported vehicles to marrying and seeing their children through school to university. Background and commentary are provided by leading international scholars, activists and participants in the historical events related, offering a range of perspectives on the pertinent political, postcolonial, and socio-economic contexts.” 

Dr. Richard Fox  Professor & Chair of Pacific and Asian Studies Professor of Anthropology Director, Canadian Southeast Asian Studies Initiative University of Victoria (BC, Canada)

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