In his first Los Angeles solo show, Rajee Samarasinghe’s (Film/Video MFA 16) collection of films If I Were Any Further Away I’d Be Closer to Home screens this weekend at 2220 Arts + Archives, a volunteer-run, interdisciplinary community art and event center in LA. Presented by Los Angeles Filmforum, the screening takes place at 6:30 pm on Sunday, July 17.
Inspired by his Sri Lankan and American roots, Samarasinghe’s films focus on memory, migration, and impermanence. He describes this collection of films as a “silent poem reflecting on the place of my mother’s birth and her first traces on earth … a generational portrait of South Asian ‘makers’ becomes a perceptual voyage into memory, experience, and touch.” The titular film, which screens at the end of the program, is shot in HD scope with a vintage anamorphic projector lens mounted to a digital camera.
Prior to this LA screening, If I Were Any Further Away I’d Be Closer to Home received praise at multiple film festivals, winning the Arri – Film House Award for Visionary Filmmaking at the 44th Athens International Film and Video Festival in 2017. A panelist at the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen said, “the film is as attentive to the rolling, cutting, and drying batches of long noodles as it is to the shifting patterns of natural light in and around their small workroom, in which a small girl stares up at the swirling dust around her.”
Samarasinghe grew up in Sri Lanka amidst the multidecade civil war, informing much of his art-making process. Much of his work centers on Sri Lankan sociopolitical conditions, aiming to deconstruct ethnographic practices and the colonial gaze of contemporary media. Now based in LA, he received his BFA from the University of California San Diego and his MFA from CalArts. Samarasinghe was listed as “25 New Faces of Independent Filmmaking” by Filmmaker Magazine in 2020.
The 2220 Arts screening will be followed by a discussion with Samarasinghe and filmmaker Mike Stoltz. There will also be a reception afterward with Sri Lankan snacks and tarot card readings by Samarasinghe’s sister, Delini Malka Samarasinghe. Tickets can be purchased online at $12 for general admission, $8 for students and seniors, and free for LA Filmforum members.
—by Ishika Muchhal