SAARC Film Festival Participatory Programme – Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

1. Background

SAARC Film Festival was approved at the Thirteenth Governing Board Meeting held in Colombo, Sri Lanka on 28th and 29th November 2023 and the Fifty-ninth Session of the Programming Committee Meeting held in Kathmandu, Nepal on 6th and 7th March 2024. 

SAARC Film Festival has become one of the most successful annual programmes of the SAARC Cultural Centre. It will be held for the 10th year in 2024 after lapse due to the global pandemic.  Since the Inaugural SAARC Film Festival in 2011, the SAARC Member State of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka has hosted this diverse celebration of cinematic creations and the development and display of visual arts through the medium of film.  The SAARC Film Festival is the only festival in South Asia which gives an opportunity to film-makers of the Region to share their talent and mingle with the other film-makers of the Region.  This is first and the earliest International and Regional Film Festival to be held in Sri Lanka. 

The medium of film both traditional celluloid to modern digital movies creates stories, preserve tangible and intangible cultural heritage and give different perspectives.  Visual art through the medium of film can be enjoyed at the comfort of home through television, YouTube, Netflix, etc.  At the same time theatres provides entertainment, information and preservation of knowledge.  This is a powerful instrument which can be used to disseminate the culture of the SAARC Region through fictional stories, real-life stories, documentaries and the latest documentation through the use of smart phone technologies.  

The SAARC Film Festival 2024 will focus on films created in South Asia and first screened after 1st May 2022 up to 30th April 2024.  Directors and artistes of these films will be invited to participate in the workshop, which is conducted to encourage and improve future productions.

2. Objectives

The objectives of the SAARC Film Festival are as follows:

2.1 To create a platform for the promotion, celebration and enjoyment of best films of the SAARC Region. 

2.2 Promotion of mutual cultural heritage, norms, traditions, stories through visual medium of film. 

2.3 To create an opportunity for the film-makers of the SAARC Region to have their creations critiqued and recognized by an international panel. 

2.4 To felicitate the creativity of the film-makers of the SAARC Region. 

2.5 To provide recognition to the individuals who are at the very core of this creativity as a form of encouragement and respect to continue producing quality, thought provoking and representational films for the Region.

3. Outcomes

3.1 Establishing a network for the film-makers of the Region. 

3.2 Providing opportunities for the creation of collaborative films in the SAARC Region. 

3.3 Felicitation of the best and most creative films of the Region in different categories. 

3.4 Creating a forum for the exchange of ideas and knowledge sharing amongst experts in the field within the Region and on an international scale. 

3.5 Exploring further opportunities to enhance the visual arts in the SAARC Region, with particular emphasis given to the film industry.

3.6 Promoting friendships and understanding within the industry in the South Asian Region

4. Film Categories for Nominations

There are five film categories open for nominations at the SAARC Film Festival in 2024.  The Member States are invited to nominate maximum of six films in the categories stated below.  Please use the Film Registration Form which is attached as Annexure 1 to provide details of the films.

4.1 Feature Films (Felicitation Category) – Two nominations

4.2 Short Films (Felicitation Category) – One Nomination

4.3 Documentary Films (Felicitation Category) – One Nomination

4.4 Web-based Short Films (Felicitation Category) – One Nomination

4.5 Master Films (Non-Felicitation Category) – One Nomination

4.1.1. Feature Films Category

4.1.1.1      Feature films are defined as ‘fictional films’.

4.1.1.2      Maximum of Two feature films to be nominated from each Member State. 

4.1.1.3      Feature films screened between 1st May 2022 to 30th April 2024 are eligible to be nominated. 

4.1.2. Short Film Category

4.1.2.1      A Short Film is defined as a ‘Short Fictional Film’.  

4.1.2.2      Duration cannot exceed 30 minutes.  

4.1.2.3      Short films screened between 1st May 2022 to 30th April 2024 are eligible to be nominated.

4.1.3. Documentary Films Category

4.1.3.1      Documentary films are defined as ‘non-fictional motion pictures used to document reality.’ 

4.1.3.2      Documentaries on tangible and intangible cultural heritage of the Member States to be nominated in this category. 

4.1.3.3      The Documentary Film should not exceed 45 minutes in duration. 

4.1.3.4      Documentary films screened between 1st May 2022 to 30th April 2024 are eligible to be nominated.

4.1.4. Web-based Short Films

4.1.4.1      Short films (fiction) that have a wide presence in the internet are eligible to be nominated in this category.

4.1.4.2      Web-based Short Films screened between 1st May 2022 to 30th April 2024 are eligible to be nominated.  4.1.4.3 The duration of the film should not exceed 30 minutes

4.1.5. Master Films

4.1.5.1      Master Films are defined as feature films created by a great film maker of the Member State reflecting the best of the film industry.

4.1.5.2      No restrictions on the period of first screening.

4.1.5.3      No restrictions on the duration of the movie. 

5. Participants

All Official, Other and Virtual Participants are required to fill the Participant Registration Form attached as Annexure 2.

5.1 Official Participants (Director / Producer of the Nominated Films)

The esteemed Member States to nominate Director or the Producer of the nominated films as participants. 

5.1.1 Each Member State to nominate maximum of 6 Official Participants (Directors / Producers) to represent each nominated film. 

5.1.2 As per SAARC practice the airfare of the Official Participants to be borne by respective Member State. 

5.1.3 SAARC Cultural Centre will provide accommodation, food and local transport in Sri Lanka for the participants from Member States except from the Host Member State. 

5.1.4 Official Participants from the Host Member State of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka will not be provided with accommodation, food or local transport. 

5.1.5 Official Participant details to be forwarded through the relevant line ministry to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs/External Affairs of the Member State to the SAARC Secretariat. 

5.2 Other Participants (Actors, Actresses, Cinematographers, Screen Writers, etc.)

The Other Participants are defined as the Cast and Crew of the nominated films excluding the Director/Producer.

5.2.1 Each Member State can nominate Cast and Crew Members of the nominated films to participate at the SAARC Film Festival. 

5.2.2 The Other Participants will be accepted based on the availability of space on a first come first serve basis. The airfare of the Other Participants to be borne by the participant. SAARC Cultural Centre will provide accommodation, food and local transport in Sri Lanka for the participants from Member States except from the Host Member State. 

5.2.3 Other Participants from the Host Member State of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka will not be provided with accommodation, food and local transport.  

5.2.4 Other Participant details to be forwarded through the relevant line ministry to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs/External Affairs of the Member State to the SAARC Secretariat. 

5.3 Virtual Participants for the Film Workshop

The Film Workshop is tentatively planned for 24th July 2024 and will be held in hybrid mode.  The Cast and Crew Members of the nominated films and any other participant can join the workshop virtually.  The Participant Registration Form (Annexure 2) needs to be filled and sent to the SAARC Cultural Centre prior to participation. 

6. Important Information

6.1 Films nominated should aim to promote culture, foster friendship and cultural harmony among the Member States.

6.2 Films that are prejudicial to another country or that would highlight issues that would not align with the aim of promoting the Festival and fostering goodwill in the Region will be disqualified. 

6.3 The organisers reserve the right to view nominated films prior to the Festival, and disqualify any film that would go against the objective of promoting peace and harmony through culture within the SAARC Region.

6.4 All nominated films must be subtitled in English or in English language. Any film submitted without English subtitles, will be disqualified. 

6.5 Each Film Nomination must be accompanied by a fully completed Registration Form (Annexure 1) which is attached to this Concept Note.

6.6 All nominated films from the Region will be critiqued by an international panel of film professionals.

6.7 All expenses pertaining to sending the film in the required format – as detailed in No. 11 Technical Requirements below, will have to be borne by the nominating Member State or the Film-Maker.

7. Felicitation Categories

SAARC Cultural Centre will invite an international panel of critiques to share their views on the films nominated by the esteemed Member States.  The critiques will evaluate the nominated films and particularly the portrayal of cultural aspects and its impact on the viewers.  They will share their views on the following categories. 

7.1 Feature Films

7.2 Directing

7.3 Acting (Male and Female leads)

7.4 Short Films

7.5 Screenplay

7.6 Cinematography

7.7 Film Editing

7.8 Sound Design

7.9 Original Score

7.10 Special Panel Commendations

8. Film Workshop

A workshop on various facets of film will be organized which will be led by the International Panel of Critiques invited by the SAARC Cultural Centre.  These critiques will be well-known experts from the International Film Industry and will share their wealth of knowledge with the SAARC Film Makers.  This will be an opportunity for the Film Makers of the SAARC Region to learn the new film technologies, trends and other information of the international arena.  This will also provide a forum for future collaborations.  This will be in hybrid mode and Official, Other and Virtual participants will be able to exchange ideas and discuss issues.  This will be a free event open to the public via registration both physically and virtually. 

9. Dates and Venue

Tentative Dates:               22nd to 28th July 2024

Venue:                              A suitable location in Colombo, Sri Lanka

10. Tentative Agenda

The final agenda will be based on the number of films nominated and their duration.
22nd July 2024: Inauguration Ceremony
28th July 2024: Felicitation Ceremony
24th July 2024: Film Workshop

11. Technical Requirements

11.1 All films for the Festival (Feature Films, Short Films, Documentary Films, Web-based Short Films and Master Films) should be submitted in DCP in 2K/4K (D Cinema) format or Blu – ray format and downloadable data format

11.2 Downloadable data format specifications:

11.2.1 Audio, video and subtitles must be contained in a single file and the file size should not exceed 10 GB.
11.2.2 Please submit HD material in the MP4 format (H.264, AAC, Stereo).
11.2.3 Please encode your video data with a constant bitrate and either 24, 25 or 30 progressive frames per second.
11.2.4 The file name must not include any special characters or blank spaces. Please do not, for example, use any file names like “myfilm!@&%$§ *().mov”.

11.3 To ensure a high technical quality, the following settings for file compression are suggested.

Size / Aspect RatioVideo Codec / Min. Bit RateAudio Codec / Min. Bit Rate
1920 x 1080 px / 16:9 HDH.264 High Profile 5.000 – 10.000 KbitsAAC / 320 Kbits Sampling Rate 48 kHz

11.4 If your film is available in a different file format or on DVD, a conversion to H.264 is recommended.
11.5 Please ensure the films submitted are not defective, are in the required format as stated above and are individually labelled, including the running time of each film.
11.6 The aim of the Festival is to promote culture, new trends and ideas, there are no restrictions on themes and topics.
11.7 All films will be subject to approval from the Sri Lankan Public Performance Board prior to screening at SAARC Film Festival 2024.
11.8 Titles of the nominated Films in all Categories (Feature, Short, Documentary, Web-based and Master Films) along with their relevant details should be sent through the relevant ministry of the nominating Member State, via their Foreign/External Affairs Ministries, to the SAARC Secretariat Kathmandu, to reach the SAARC Cultural Centre in Colombo by the 10th June 2024.
11.9 Names of the Film Personnel (up to a maximum of 6 Film Directors and/or Artistes) nominated to represent each SAARC Member State, should be sent through the relevant ministry concerned of the nominating Member State, via their Foreign/External Affairs Ministries, to the SAARC Secretariat Kathmandu, to reach the SAARC Cultural Centre in Colombo by the 10th June 2024.
11.10 Three copies each of the Nominated Films in the specified format should be sent through the relevant Ministry concerned of the nominating Member State, via their Foreign/External Affairs Ministries, directly to the SAARC Cultural Centre, Sri Lanka as detailed in the attached Registration Form (Annexure 1), to reach the SAARC Cultural Centre, by the 10th June 2024.
11.11.1 Synopsis of 150-words of each film submitted for the Festival;

11.11 For publicity purposes, please include a standard Press Kit with the required information, giving special consideration to the following:
11.11.2 Three High resolution (300 dpi) images from each film;
11.11.3 One Profile picture of the Director (300 dpi);
11.11.4 Biography of the Director;
11.11.5 Film trailers, clip reels, posters, post cards if available;
11.11.6 Film Reviews – to be sent in together with the names of the nominated films.

12. Technical Contact

Please contact the following officers of the SAARC Cultural Centre for technical support. The Registration Form (Annexure 1) and the information stated above by the 10th June 2024 to the following persons.

12.1 Mr. Mahinda Sumanasekara,
Documentation Officer,
Mobile/WhatsApp: 0094-71-921-8806
Email: documentation@saarcculture.org / mahindasb@gmail.com

12.2 Mr. Harishnath Nadaraja,
Programme Assistant,
Mobile/WhatsApp: 0094-72-391-5808
Email: programme-assistant@saarcculture.org / sccprogrammesdiv@gmail.com

13. Focal Points

13.1 Ms. Bindu Urugodawatte,
Deputy Director Programmes,
Mobile/WhatsApp: 0094-77-450-6094
Email: dd-programme@saarcculture.org / sccprogrammes2023@gmail.com

13.2 Mr. Keerthi Gunathilaka, (Logistics)
Administrative Officer,
Mobile/WhatsApp: 0094-77-105-3006
Email: admin@saarcculture.org / kkeerthigunathilaka67@gmail.com

Film Information Form : Annexure 1

Registration Form for Participants : Annexure 2