Ceylon International Film Festival brings Sri Lankan culture to Santa Barbara

How did the very first Sri Lankan film festival held outside of Sri Lanka end up in Santa Barbara? The South Asian island country (formerly known as Ceylon) is the hometown of organizer Aruni Boteju, but she has lived with her family in Santa Barbara for 26 years.

“My goal was to create a bridge between a paradise on the Indian Ocean and another on the Pacific,” said Boteju, whose first Ceylon International Film Festival (ceyiff.com) presents over 10 live-action feature films, plus an array of animations, documentaries and shorts over the course of three days (June 10-12) at the Lobero Theater.

“Sri Lanka is our homeland,” said Boteju, who came up with the idea during the pandemic. “I wanted to find help and bring together two paradises with a common passion: cinema. … Our goal is to make voices heard through cinema. Cinema can educate people, bring cultures together and teach us who we are Cultural diversity is a beautiful thing, and when we are exposed to many cultures through cinema, we learn and see how connected we are. We create differences and pass them on to our children. But with cinema , we bring those differences and we address them to educate our children and the world.

For the full schedule and ticket information, visit lobero.org/events. Watch trailers for films from the festival below.


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Darcy J. Skinner