Goodbye Lotus Club

working title

Director / Director of photography / Editing Suranga D. Katugampala
Concept / Script
Darshana V. Aravinda

Produced by
Kaiya Collective with 5e6 Film(Italy) and supermouch film(France)

Between documentary and fiction, a journey into Swarna's life and her house. Reality bends to fiction. Swarna's desires to tell crime stories fold into a space-time distortion. While the president's son launches Sri Lanka's first rocket into space, a woman investigates a mysterious treasure buried in the garden.

Director notes

නළු නිළිය නොමැත.
(ඔවුන්ව අධ්‍යක්ෂණය කිරීමක් නොමැත).
චරිත නොමැත.
(චරිතයෙන් දැන ගැනීමට දෙයක් නොමැත).
සැකසීමක් නොමැත.
නමුත් අනුරූ සමඟ වැඩකිරීමෙන් ජීවිතයෙන් යමක් ලබා ගන්න.
රඟ පෑම වෙනුවට, හුදෙක් පවතින්න

Notes about a work in progress

Goodbye Lotus Club is a film that moves on the border between documentary and fiction.
Writer Aravinda and I started from initial intentions to document the news of a crime case that occurred in Sri Lanka, the protests of 2022 and the decision of my mother to sell the house in Sri Lanka that she laboriously built over the years of working in Italy. She felt the country was no longer safe, she felt a strong feeling of disappointment.
We carried out the development work on this initial idea by doing a lot of research on our methodology, that is, remaining in a documentary territory ensuring that the elements dear to us can emerge organically from a real context and not imposed by force by us. What kind of film do we want? how to trigger a documentary mechanism to capture unpublished and everyday images in Sri Lanka? How can we combine a precarious and fragile production economy with the desire to create this film in a short time, so as not to get tangled up in a complex production machine, long in time and potentially conditionable in our artistic choices?
We studied the cinema of many authors, dissected the concepts of post-documentary and post-cinema, developed critical and analytical thoughts on the meaning of making a film in Sri Lanka in 2024. On the sense of reality, of archive, of memory, real and fake, of authentic and in some ways schizophrenic attitudes of Sri Lankan society.
Research has shaped our choices and our own path.
It was in this search that I met Swarna, a 60-year-old woman living a few km from Colombo, with 34 years spent working as a housekeeper in the United Arab Emirates. A few years ago, Swarna returned to Sri Lanka permanently and now she lives with her elderly mother in her house that she painstakingly built over the years abroad. Swarna's life and events seemed very in line with what I was looking for in the initial intentions. At the same time I felt the need to distance myself from my personal history, to translate it to a broader perspective, and the meeting with Swarna allowed me to improve my intentions. Thus the story transformed. Instead of focusing on my home, I started collaborating with Swarna. Her story, her conflict with home, the feeling of disappointment with the country, her reactions that sometimes seem very similar to those coming from an Asian melodramatic soap opera made me think about the project even more.
Swarna is fascinated by the cinema of the 70s in Sri Lanka, she madly loves melodramatic crime films, so much so that it seems that some of her intentions have been shaped by these same films. Her character thus seems to perfectly contain that crime dimension that I was looking for in the contemporary narration of the country.
Aravinda and I started shooting with her, including her in our workflow and suddenly we knew we had some strong material never shot in this land. She is coming out with a very intimate work that we are very happy with and can't wait to bring this work out into the light.

- Suranga