Abandoned Earth : in the limbo of the post-war
by Fabien Lemercier
14/05/2005 - A very strange journey this afternoon in the Un Certain Regard section transported the audience to a desolate part of Sri Lanka, to a region where men and women are left to their own devices having barely recovered the normalities of life after twenty years of civil war. Produced by Philippe Avril for the French company Unlimited, in co-production with Arte France Cinéma, Les Films de l’Etranger and the international sales outfit Onoma, and in association with the Fresnoy school, Abandoned Earth (Sulanga Enu Pinisa) by the SriLankan living in France Vimukthi Jayasundara petrified the audience with its throbbing rhythm bathed in an atmosphere of existential emptiness and highly sensitive sexual instincts.
Tracing the daily life on the edge of oblivion of a family (a husband, his wife, his sister and his young niece), the first feature of this former resident of the Cannes Cinéfondation succeeds in distilling a fascinating cocktail of time eaked out in extreme circumstances and a calm that manages to evoke death without often showing it, among the tanks and military trucks that pass regularly on the fringes. Beyond the physical instinctive urges and the monologues of an old man sharing his life with a child, in poetic mode, the director absorbs these idle days without comment (with dialogue reduced to a minimum), the deluge of rain adding a further malediction from the skies against these dead souls without a future. An enigmatic work, mysterious and abstract which hollows out its conclusion through the questions of criminal negligence and the alienation of a past which is methodically destroying the present and taking possession of the human spirit and emptying it of its content. With a budget of 973 000 euros (200 000 from Arte), Abandoned Earth obtained support from CNC Southern Fund (France), and Dutch funds from Hubert Bals and Prince Claus, and not forgetting assistance from the French region of Alsace and the Strasbourg Urban Community. A financial package that once more emphasis the part played by Europe in the development of a director who truly possesses a vision of the world. A multicultural identity that will no doubt allow Abandoned Earth to be revived in the theatres of many countries.
(Translated from French)