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Last updated: 31 August, 2008 - Published 13:12 GMT
 
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Machan in Venice Festival
 

 
 
A scene from Machan (photo: Lankadissent.com)
Machan explores the desperation of young Sri Lankans looking for better life
A film which was premier this weekend at the Venice Film Festival is one of the few international co-productions ever made in Sri Lanka.

Machan is based on the true story of a group of Sri Lankans who travelled to Germany on the pretext of taking part in a sports tournament but who were in fact seeking to emigrate.

Four years ago the film producer Uberto Pasolini spotted a news item which led him to make Machan in and around Colombo.

23 Sri Lankans had formed a team to play handball - a sport they had no experience of - and secured invitations to play in Germany.

Once there they disappeared into the grey economy, as had been their plan.

 We used the people that we met in our research and created the 23 lives and the 23 characters with their dreams and their problems and aspirations into our film
 
Director Uberto Pasolini

Some years back Mr Pasolini - Italian-born but long in the UK film industry -produced the hit movie The Full Monty, here, he thought, might be another story of friendship and struggle against circumstance to engross audiences.

Rather than track down the original emigrants, he researched the story by talking to people still in Sri Lanka.

"We spent weeks and weeks talking to people in the less fortunate areas of Colombo to talk about people's problems. We used the people that we met in our research and created the 23 lives and the 23 characters with their dreams and their problems and aspirations into our film,” he told the BBC.

The handball team that vanished in Germany
Machan is based on the handball team that vanished in Germany in 2004

Mahendra Perera plays one of the fixers who, in real life, take $10,000 or more to send Sri Lankans to the west, usually by boat.

He said: "They think they can make their money within no time if they come here. But when they come here they'll have to do anything - they are ready to do anything to make money. So otherwise they won't fulfil their dreams”.

Machan is a comedy: it's not a heavyweight documentary.

But both Uberto Pasolini and Mahendra Parera hope it will give audiences beyond Sri Lanka an insight into the desperation which leads young men to abandon their homeland hoping for a better - or better-paid - life elsewhere.

 
 
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