Sarath Manula Wickrama
After filing a RTI application it was revealed that the judges were biased in selecting winners of Art Festival of North central Province. The issue got the spotlight when contestants complained that procedures and contest rules were not followed when judging winners of short films and photography. The participants filed a RTI application and received a response from Department of Cultural Affairs of North Central province through letter NCP/PCD/DO/04/06 dated 2nd November 2017.
An entry sent by a participant who fell under school category was portrayed at the Art festival as a winner. Despite that the organizers failed to handover the certificate and trophy. On behalf of the participant, Punsara Mahinsasa Siriwardena who lives in Maliyadewa Mawatha, Anuradhapura Vice Principal Indika Dissanayake of his School, Deepani Maha Vidyalaya Anuradhapura questioned the officials of Department of Cultural Affairs of North Central Province. There the officials have informed him that they will get back on the matter which the authorities failed to do. Then he filed a RTI application to the Department.
The information Officer C.S.K Dharmasena has informed that the competition is cancelled as they did not receive sufficient number of entries. The Vice Principal state that it is unfair to do so and there is no such protocol to cancel a contest just because there weren’t sufficient number of entries. The selection for photography open category was done by the selectors who judged short films. Through RTI application the contestants requested information on the judges, their qualifications. They were informed that the judges are from other areas.
It was revealed that a well known artist and two of his assistants. Three of them have selected the winners of photography contest. Artists in the area say that they were unaware of such an event and they say that it was not suitable to get an expert in film industry to judge photography competition. The information Officer failed to provide information on what category the film “Vippayoga” adjudged as the best film, cinematography and screenplay.
In the criteria for short films it was stated that the time limit for a short film is 10 minutes. The film which won had ten minutes and fourty seconds. Some of the participants said that it was unfair. Also it was revealed that cameraman of the film had ties to the chief judge of the contest. Although it was published that last day for submissions is 30 th July the date was changed without prior notice to the contestants. When the information on the register of submissions was requested under RTI application, the RTI officer has submitted only the name of the contestant and name of the submissions without the date of submission. There was only one submission before the cutoff date and then others were after that. The late submissions were listed as submissions after 4 th August and the
Actual submission date was not mentioned. The artists in the area have lost faith in a competition like these. However, credit must be given to Provincial Council Director of Cultural affairs Kalanjali Dharshana Arunashantha for providing information requested within a month.