Trance: Short Film Review


By Marti Dols Roca.

Seven years after the war in Sri Lanka, thousands of people are still missing. Most of them presumably dead. The mostly Tamil* families of the missing have held demonstrations to support their cause. Some of them have complained that they have been abducted or arrested by the police while staging their protests.

As many as 100,000 people are thought to have died in the conflict.



Trance (Gnanadas Kasinathar, 2017) is a short film that addresses the “missing people” issue in post-war Sri Lanka. Inspired by stories told by victims of the war and shot entirely in Sri Lanka by a native cast and crew, Trance follows a mother whose son is missing and seeks courage and answers by taking part in a religious ceremony in honor to the Goddess Kali. The woman is told that good news are about to arrive and she identifies those with the visit of two young men (a Tamil and a Sinhalese) who claim to be friends of her missing son. As usual in these kind of tragic stories, the woman ends up giving money and selling her goods in order to help her boy through the two unsettling youngsters.

Eventually, she will uncover the scheme (as, ironically enough, it has nothing to do with ethnic communities; it’s just pure theft) ran by the two latecomers who will end up assaulted by a furious Tamil mob.



Trance has won the prestigious Award of Recognition from The Best Short Film Competition (California) and will be screened in the London Eye Film Festival in UK as well as in Cape Town International Film Festival in South Africa amongst others.

According to the director “We learn cinema by doing it and making mistakes. This award gives confidence not only me and our team, but the whole Sri Lankan Tamils”. Trance is one of those little movies that are able to deliver a simple but very strong social message in a very stylistic manner. The limitations in shape of narrative or resources are also obvious, but on the whole the short film succeeds in its purpose and underlines an ongoing conflict that seems to be forgotten by the international media.

* Alongside Sinhalese, the two main ethnic groups living in Sri Lanka.

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