As Sri Lanka boosts the island’s movie-making potential at the Cannes Film Festival, remember one of the most famous films ever made in Sri Lanka—The Bridge On The River Kwei.
This multi-Oscar-winning 1957 wartime epic was shot almost exclusively in Sri Lanka—Ceylon, as was—at Kitulgala, two hours’ drive from the capital Colombo.
Building on that triumph, Sri Lanka Tourism in and the National Film Corporation of Sri Lanka pitched its tent at Cannes, the first such combined initiative.
And as the UK’s online Daily Mail newspaper reports: “Now, 57 years later, the authorities are planning to rebuild the wooden bridge as a tourist attraction”.
“Sri Lanka has not really capitalized on the success of this and other iconic movies shot in Sri Lanka to actively promote the country as a film destination.
“But that may be about to change. The Cannes Film Festival is an ideal opportunity to create an impact to highlight unique locations and characteristics of the country.”
Says Dushan Wickramasuriya, Sri Lanka Tourism director of public relations: “By arranging a pavilion at the festival, Sri Lanka Tourism has also given the opportunity and created a platform for local stakeholders in the film industry to get actively involved in promoting Sri Lanka as an ideal film location.”
And Kitulgala? Says the Mail: “Sri Lanka’s tourist industry has been steadily growing and more than 1.2 million foreigners are expected to visit this year.
“While most head for the beaches, Kitulgala has carved out a niche as a white-water-rafting destination, generating nearly $20million last year.
“Adventure sports operators in Kitulgala say the project to build a dam at Broadlands, a few kilometres upstream, will tame the 17 separate classified rapids on their stretch of water.”