ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka plans to replace the existing Public Performances Board with a new ‘Public Performances Classification Board’, President Ranil Wickremesinghe said, calling for a culture of free expression in film and the arts devoid of censorship and criminalisation.
Speaking at the Presidential Film Awards on Tuesday November 14, Wickremesinghe said films must be issued a “classification certificate” going forward.
“Technology has changed. Today film and television have become mixed as media. We can now watch movies on our mobile phones. Even small countries now submit to international film festivals.
“We have access to their movies. We too must enter that industry. I know we have the talent for it. The film corporation must now be reorganised. Competition must be brought in. We must go for a new system,” said Wickremesinghe.
“We consider film an industry. Since we’ll be getting funds after next year, we have the opportunity to start working on it now itself,” he added.
President Wickremesinghe said the government plans to take “new measures” with regard to the regulation of public performances.
“Our public performances ordinance is now about a hundred years old. In place of the Public Performances Board, we wish to establish a Public Performances Classification Board,” he said.
Media reports in January 2023 said the Public Performance Board Act was to be replaced with new legislation to reflect recent developments in the field of performance arts, ensuring principles of free expression.
A committee headed by former Chairman of the Public Performance Board Saman Athaudahetti was appointed to recommend proposals. Film directors Ashoka Handagama and Anoma Rajakaruna, playwright Rajitha Dissanayake and President’s Counsel Jagath Wickremenayake were members of the committee, according to reports.
“We must remove the word censorship from artistic endeavours. At present, creations have been brought under various criminal laws, which has led to our artists facing various [legal] difficulties,” said Wickremesinghe.
“I think films have to be issued a film classification certificate. We have to think new. We cannot be stuck with the old ways if we are to do this,” he said. (Colombo/Nov15/2023)