“Lester by Lester”, chronicling the
creativity of a lifetime

Colombo. Saturday 21st April 2007. ‘Lester by Lester …. as told to Kumar de Silva’, a celebration of half a century of locally and internationally acclaimed excellence, chronicling the creativity of a lifetime of the Doyen of Sri Lankan Cinema, Dr. Lester James Peries, was launched today at the SLFI in Colombo.

The book is published by Vijitha Yapa Publications as a limited edition. Each book, which is a collector’s item, is numbered and autographed by Lester James Peries. As part of its endeavour to supporting the arts in this country, Sri Lanka Telecom has contributed generously towards the printing cost with a grant “to make the book more available to a greater reading public”, as Dr. Peries so desired.

The book’s twenty chapters are devoted to each of his twenty films, from ‘Rekawa’ (The Line of Destiny. 1956) his first, to ‘Ammawarune’ (Elegy for a Mother. 2006) his last, showcasing and chronicling half a century of film making.

Media personality Kumar de Silva who closely collaborated with Dr. Peries on this project said that since ‘Rekawa’ premiered in 1956, volumes have been written about him over the years, both locally and internationally. “But apart from the essays and articles he authored, never has Dr. Peries ever written about himself… something on the lines of an autobiography chronicling his film making career.

“This is the very first time he has chosen to write about himself and his half a century film making career, in a single volume. The book takes its readers through the trials and tribulations to a variety of anecdotes and memorable moments in the making of his twenty films. It takes on an even greater significance and importance given the fact that Lester James Peries has now officially ‘retired’ from film making and will direct no more films”, de Silva added.

Says Dr. Peries, “A journey in time is always fraught with multiple dangers; nostalgia and an obtuscation of the truth. I have tried to avoid both pitfalls – it hasn’t been easy. When you have worked with artistes who enjoy iconic status today, but were unknown when you started their careers, how much can you reveal ? When you have ghost directed a considerable number of scenes, would you now reveal what has been an artistic triumph today ? Historical veracity may try to force you to, but the ethical thing to do is to keep your trap shut”.

“Excavating the past, when film-making has been past of your life, has triggered off many pleasant and creatively important memories. Remembering them has been painful sometimes, but often deeply satisfying”, Dr. Peries added.

Now revered as one of the Asian greats, Lester James Peries has won continuous international acclaim in several parts of the world. Half a century later, with 88 years on earth, 50 productive years, 20 films, tele-serials, countless retrospectives around the world, bouquets and brickbats, national and international honours……….Lester James Peries takes it all in his stride ….. they all rest on his slight frame …… with ease.

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