In a recent parliamentary session on the 7th, Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana, the Minister of Transport, Highways, and Mass Media, shared pivotal updates on the future trajectory of Sri Lanka's cinema landscape. Responding to an inquiry by Member of Parliament Uddika Premaratne about the cinema industry's developmental steps, the Minister disclosed that the long-awaited National Film Commission Act is poised for submission to Parliament imminently.

Dr. Gunawardhana elaborated on the legislative journey, stating that the National Film Commission Bill has been meticulously drafted and presented to the Cabinet. A dedicated committee, appointed by the Cabinet, is conducting a comprehensive review, extending beyond cinema to encompass television and other media. However, the inclusion of television and additional media formats has met opposition from certain quarters. Anticipating the committee's report, the Minister affirmed the imminent submission of the National Film Commission Act to Parliament.

Addressing broader industry initiatives, Dr. Gunawardhana outlined measures taken to modernize movie theaters, engage investors, foster the production of high-quality films, introduce transparent revenue distribution through e-tickets, and revamp university studios. In response to a parliamentary inquiry about the potential integration of cinema under the Ministry of Industry, the Minister disclosed that the committee, tasked with exploring this possibility, concluded that such integration is not feasible. However, he underscored efforts to secure tax concessions for the cinema sector, contingent upon the completion of foreign debt restructuring.

Providing a snapshot of the current cinematic landscape, Dr. Gunawardhana revealed that Sri Lanka boasts 71 cinema halls, with 25 affiliated with the National Film Corporation (NFC). Notably, these 25 cinemas contributed significantly to the industry, earning a commendable 804.6 million rupees in the year 2022. Additionally, the Minister highlighted the introduction of voxlight theaters in 2023, signaling a forward-thinking approach to enhance the cinematic experience. As the industry undergoes legislative refinement and embraces modernization, Sri Lanka's cinema sector appears poised for a transformative chapter ahead.

Furthermore, the Minister shed light on a notable discrepancy, revealing that the Films and Theatres Private Company refrains from recording the income of its theaters within the National Film Corporation's purview. Instead, only the count of attendees finds its place in the official records. For the year 2022 alone, approximately 2 million moviegoers frequented these cinemas, marking a substantial viewership.

In a strategic move to bolster revenue within Sri Lanka's film industry, the Minister outlined a comprehensive plan, emphasizing the pivotal role of the forthcoming National Film Development Bill. This legislative instrument is envisioned as a catalyst for amplifying earnings within the film sector. Notably, the Cabinet has issued a directive to broaden the scope of the bill, encompassing not only cinema but also television. However, this expansion encountered resistance from a panel of experts, including scholars, who expressed dissent over the inclusion of television and other media formats.

Undeterred, the Minister revealed that the Cabinet has instructed a reevaluation of the plan, prompting its resubmission to the expert panel. Despite reservations, the Minister remains steadfast in the commitment to submit the National Film Development Commission Act to Parliament promptly, contingent on the committee report. As Sri Lanka navigates the intricacies of legislative evolution in its film industry, the pursuit of a robust and inclusive framework appears to be a focal point in shaping the future of the nation's cinematic landscape.

In conclusion, Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana's revelations in Parliament paint a vivid picture of the dynamic landscape of Sri Lanka's film industry. The intricate details disclosed, including discrepancies in income reporting by private companies, substantial viewership figures, and the strategic plan for industry growth, underscore the complexities inherent in the sector.

The impending National Film Development Bill emerges as a linchpin in the government's vision to augment earnings within the film domain. While the Cabinet's directive to include television in the bill reflects a forward-looking approach, it has encountered resistance from a panel of experts, setting the stage for deliberations on the bill's comprehensive scope.

The Minister's unwavering commitment to submit the National Film Development Commission Act to Parliament, contingent on the expert panel's report, underscores a determination to usher in transformative changes. As the industry grapples with these intricacies, Sri Lanka's cinematic future appears poised at a crucial juncture, with legislative evolution serving as a catalyst for shaping a more vibrant and inclusive cinematic landscape. The ongoing discourse and planned interventions reflect a commitment to not only address existing challenges but also lay a robust foundation for the sustained growth of the nation's film industry.