How do you market and release a film during a pandemic? What do you do when a 25-year passion project has been completed and cannot be launched? What are the implications of zero social protection or employment benefits on an industry which is built on freelance labour? Stakeholders from Sri Lanka's film industry discuss the effects of the pandemic.
A personal essay on grief, identity and the pandemic.
In conversation with Sri Lankan writer Kanya D’Almeida, winner of the Asia Regional Prize at the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2021
"In March 2021, Kanya D’Almeida received an email from an online publication about a short story she had submitted. A firm, polite rejection, it outlined a list of things to be tightened or changed and she groaned, wondering if she would need to take the story back to the drawing board. A day later, she received an email from Commonwealth Writers informing her that the very short story was one of 20 shortlisted from a record number of 6423 entries from 50 countries."
The Packet and I had a chat about carving a space for thinking, forming an artists community, collaboration and political and creative potential of intimacy and friendship and playfulness.
//To get into character for Auntie Netta, Nimmi Harasgama compresses her jawline like an accordion to give the illusion of multiple chins. Since her initial appearances over a decade ago, her clothes are now updated to island-appropriate kaftans. Netta’s makeup is chaotically blotted lipstick, which strays out of her lip line. The braided wig has been abandoned for a dishevelled, short wig. When many people meet Nimmi Harasgama in real life, there is an inflection of surprise and a double-take when they connect her to her online alter-ego:“Wait, you’re Aunty Netta?”//
A profile on Harasgama
Ramadan in 2020 was one like no other. I spoke to Muslims around Sri Lanka about their experiences of fasting through a pandemic, how they navigated COVID-19 and their plans for Eid.
Zora Neale Hurston wrote that “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” This was the first in a new series on life in the middle of a pandemic.
‘Notes on Resilience’ looked at hope, resilience and joy in a challenging year. Here, sociology lecturer and newly minted parliamentarian Dr. Harini Amarasuriya discussed the post-pandemic futures we need to collectively work to and how maybe we should look towards cats for life lessons. Have a read :)
Melony Mahaarachchi began to study engineering later than most students and while being a full-time mother. Her first engineering job was at Elon Musk’s SpaceX in 2010. She went on to join the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to work on the Mars 2020 Rover mission, which launched in July 2020. Here, she spoke about failure and learning, her pandemic philosophy and hope.
Q&A: Notes on Resilience - Visakesa Chandrasekaram, law lecturer, creative practitioner and activist
Visakesa Chandrasekaram discusses the release of his movie ‘Paangshu’ after the first lockdown, the importance of friends and family bonds in cultivating personal resilience and how Bharatha natyam helped cultivate mental and physical resilience in a slow-burn year.
A Q&A with Hafleen Dawood, a secondhand and rare book seller based in Wellawatte, and better known as Deen the Book Man. We discussed how the pandemic affected book sales, how he adjusted to meet reader requirements and plans for 2021.
For our final edition of ‘Notes on Resilience’ Amalini De Sayrah speaks about the generosity of Sri Lankans in times of need, burnout and 2020 as a year to acknowledge and reflect on privilege.
Yudhanjaya explores burnout, the heightened importance of communication with one another and the changing conditions of writing and publishing in 2020.
Kiribath publishers began soon after the Easter attacks to help children at the Zion Church, Batticaloa affected by the attacks deal with their trauma. Since then, they've expanded to publish board books that young Sri Lankan children can relate to, with Sri Lankan contexts, places and faces.
I really enjoyed Minoli's collection of short stories, Broken Jaw. Here's a Q&A. We discussed writing, toggling between academia and fiction and more.