Why Sumithra Peiris is a Trailblazer in Sri Lanka’s Film Industry

Sumithra Peiris is considered a legend in the Sri Lankan film industry for her powerful and thought-provoking films that tackle important social and political issues. Throughout her career, she has made a significant contribution to the country’s film industry, and her work has been recognized with numerous awards and accolades.

Peiris began her career in the film industry as a scriptwriter and later transitioned to directing. She made her directorial debut with the film “Yuganthaya” (The End of an Era) in 1983. The film was a commercial success and earned her critical acclaim for its powerful portrayal of the Sri Lankan Civil War and its impact on ordinary people.

Throughout her career, Peiris has tackled a wide range of social and political issues in her films. She has explored themes such as war, poverty, gender, and social injustice, and her films have been praised for their ability to capture the complexities of life in Sri Lanka.

In addition to her work as a filmmaker, Peiris has also been involved in various other aspects of the film industry. She has served as a jury member for several international film festivals and has also been a mentor to many young filmmakers in Sri Lanka.

Peiris’s films have been well received both in Sri Lanka and internationally. She has won numerous awards for her work, including the prestigious Sarasaviya Award for Best Director and the Presidential Award for Best Director.

Overall, Sumithra Peiris is a talented and respected filmmaker who has made a significant contribution to Sri Lanka’s film industry. Her powerful and thought-provoking films have tackled important social and political issues, and she has been recognized for her work with numerous awards. She continues to be a role model for many young filmmakers in Sri Lanka.


  • 1978 Gehenu Lamai
  • 1980 Ganga Addara
  • 1982 Yahalu Yeheli
  • 1984 Maya
  • 1988 Sagara Jalaya Madi Handuwa Oba Handa
  • 1996 Loku Duwa
  • 1997 Duwata Mawaka Misa
  • 2003 Sakman Maluwa
  • 2018 Vaishnavee


  • The title of Kala Keerthi was by the Government of Sri Lanka in 2005.
  • The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays by the Government of Japan in 2021.
  • Awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Kelaniya for her outstanding contribution to the local cinema.

International Awards

  • Carthage International Film Festival – Gehenu Lamai – Diploma of Merit (1978), shared the jury award with Mirinal Sen of India.
  • London Film Festival – Gehenu Lamai – Outstanding Film of the Year (1978)
  • South Asian Film Festival in Tokyo, Japan – Ganga Addara – Diploma
  • Moscow International Film Festival – Yahalu Yeheli – Diploma (1984), purchased by a German television channel in 1986
  • Filmex International Film Festival, Los Angeles – Yahalu Yeheli – Diploma (1985)
  • International Film Festival, Tokyo – Sagara Jalaya – One of the Ten Best Films, purchased by a Japanese television station
  • Nantes International Film Festival – Loku Duwa – Diploma (1993)
  • Fukuoka International Film Festival – Loku Duwa (1994)
  • London Film Festival – Duwata Mawaka Misa – Diploma (1998)
  • International Film Festival, India – Duwata Mawaka Misa (1998)
  • Fukuoka International Film Festival – Duwata Mawaka Misa (1998)
  • Golden Lotus – Deauville Award for “Contribution to Asian Cinema” (2001)

National Awards

Best Editor

  • Gamperaliya – Sarasaviya Film Awards (1964)
  • Delovak Athara – Sarasaviya Film Awards (1967)
  • Ahasin Polawata – Presidential Awards (1979) & OCIC Awards (1979)
  • Bakmaha Deege – Critics Awards (1971)

Best Director

  • Ganga Addara – Sarasaviya Film Awards (1981) & Presidential Awards (1981)
  • Yahalu Yeheli – Presidential Awards (1983) & OCIC Awards (1983)
  • Maya – Sarasaviya Film Awards (1984) & National Award for Best Film and Best Director in 1986.
  • Sagara Jalaya – OCIC Awards (1989) & Swarna Sanka Awards (1988)
  • Loku Duwa – Presidential Awards (1989) & Sarasaviya Silver Jubilee Awards (1988)
  • Duwata Mawaka Misa Presidential Awards (1996)
  • Zonta Arthur C Clark Award for Communication (1988)
  • Rana Thisara Lifetime Achievement Award (1993)
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