First-Ever Sri Lankan Film Fest Makes International Debut at the Lobero Theatre

How did the first-ever Sri Lankan Film Festival organized outside of Sri Lanka end up in Santa Barbara? This island country in South Asia (formerly known as Ceylon) is the hometown of organizer Aruni Boteju, but she’s lived with her family in Santa Barbara for 26 years.

“My goal was to create a bridge from one paradise on the Indian Ocean to another on the Pacific,” said Boteju, whose inaugural Ceylon International Film Festival ( features more than 10 live action feature films, as well as an array of animation, documentaries, and shorts over the course of three days (June 10-12) at The Lobero Theatre.

“Sri Lanka is our motherland,” said Boteju, who came up with the idea during the pandemic. “I wanted to find help and bring two paradises two together with a common passion — cinema. … Our goal is to let voices be heard through cinema. Cinema can educate people, bring cultures together, and teach us who we are. Cultural diversity is a beautiful thing, and when we are exposed to many cultures through cinema, we learn and see how well we are connected as one. We create differences, and we pass that down to our children. But with cinema, we bring those differences and address them to educate our children and the world.”

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