The journey to the Jaffna International Cinema Festival in Sri Lanka
After I returned from Japan, I immediately flew off to Sri Lanka the next morning.
My film RIVER OF EXPLODING DURIANS had been invited to the Best Debut Film competition section of the inaugural Jaffna International Cinema Festival.
Naturally, I was excited.
Jaffna is at the northern part of Sri Lanka, so when I arrived at the capital city of Colombo, it was necessary to take a 7-hour train ride to Jaffna.
But before that, I was able to rest for a night at the YWCA International Guesthouse.
The building has existed for more than two hundred years, and it was converted into a guest house almost a hundred years ago. It's cool that you write your guest registration on a thick book.
My time in Colombo was quite short, I managed to visit the famed Gangaramaya temple. But only for a short while.
I woke up at 4am the next morning, and prepared myself.
My train was supposed to be at 5:45am. I arrived at the station at 5am, I met the famed Sri Lankan director Asoka Handagama, who also taking the same train to the festival for a screening of his film.
While I was in the station, I was reminded of a long train journey I had taken back in 2007, from New Delhi to Bodh Gaya, how long was that ride? I think it was around 15 hours. There were no air-conditioner, the journey lasted from afternoon to the next morning. It was an unforgettable journey. It was eight years ago, but it felt like an eternity.
I didn't mind reenacting such a journey again, until I realized that the train this time was absolutely brand new. (and with air-conditioner!!)
The screen was playing an eclectic mix of films. It was HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2 when I got onboard, during Harry Potter and Lord Voldermort's climatic battle.
I drifted to sleep and woke up 2 hours later. This time, it was playing RIO, the very entertaining animated film which I have seen before. So I went back to sleep.
When I got up, I was surprised to see a kungfu scene happening onscreen (with Dutch subtitles!). This time, they were playing the 2010 film IP MAN: A LEGEND IS BORN by Herman Yau, which I have not seen before. Back then, I dismissed it as a cheap cash grab of the previous IP MAN films with Donnie Yen.
Thankfully, I was wrong, and the film turned out to be more entertaining than expected, and more ambitious than I thought. I wonder whether it had anything to do with the fact that I felt a strange warmth watching a familiar Chinese film in a Sri Lankan train. Nevertheless, in the 2 hours that I was awake during the 7-hour journey, it was mostly spent on watching this film.
Arrived at Jaffna during the afternoon. I got the director's pass and the festival catalog.
In the evening, I even took a Tuk Tuk with a large TV on it!