Selected for the Classics section of Cannes International Film Festival in 2020, Bambaru Avith is acknowledged to be director Pathiraja’s masterpiece and a pioneering work of Sri Lankan cinema.
Directed by: Dharmasena Pathiraja
Runtime: 125 minutes
Country: Sri Lanka
Language: Sinhala with English subtitles
Rating: NC16 (Some Coarse Language)
Bambaru Avith tells the story of the clash between a group of urban entrepreneurs and local fishermen in Kalpitiya, a fishing village in Sri Lanka. The city folk, headed by Victor, bring a business ethic of their own; with capitalistic tendencies that angers Anton, the local patriarch. When Victor gets involved with a local village girl, tensions arise in the village, climaxing to a series of violent events.
About the Director
Regarded as a pioneer of Sri Lankan cinema’s “second revolution”, the films by Dharmasena Pathiraja (1943–2018) are lauded for its compelling portraits of the working class. Pathiraja sought to address the prevailing socio-economic conditions through Bambura Avith (1978), Ponmani (1977) and more. He was an academic and lectured at University of Jaffna, University of Colombo and University of Ruhuna.
Bambaru Avith is acknowledged as Pathiraja’s masterpiece. It represented Sri Lanka at the 10th Moscow International Film Festival and was screened at Venice and Los Angeles Film Festivals. In Sri Lanka, it won Best Director and Best Film at the inaugural Presidential Film Awards, as well as the OCIC Award.
The restoration of Bambaru Avith (The Wasps Are Here) was made possible using the sole-surviving 35mm release print. It is the fourth feature-length film by the late Sri Lankan director Dr. Dharmasena Pathiraja (1943-2018) and is the first South Asian film title restored by the Asian Film Archive.
Due to inadequate storage and handling, the print was in critical condition, displaying chemical decay, mould damage and severe vinegar syndrome.
An intensive desiccation treatment was applied to reduce the stickiness and alleviate the condition of the print to enable repair work and the digitising process.
Due to the lack of good image information for comparisons, automatic digital restoration application could not be utilised, thus requiring a great amount of manual work. Extensive manual repairs were conducted to address damage from mould, scratches, shrinkage and tears. Scratch removal, stabilising, deflicking and colour correction were carried out.
A manual edit was performed on the optical soundtrack digitised from the print, using spectral analysis and frequency/samples interpolation. This helped to eliminate or reduce clicks, crackles and bumps. Equalisation and multi-band compression was applied to every scene to smoothen excessive noise and to balance the overall tone for a better auditory experience.
The serious buckling and warpage of the print resulted in a doubling effect during the scanning process. Current restoration tools are unable to rectify this effect to a homogeneous result on image quality and focus.
A total of 4750 hours was spent to digitally restore the film in 4K resolution by L’Immagine Ritrovata in 2019 and completed in 2020.
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