Kannan Arunasalam

Kannan is a documentary filmmaker and visual journalist who uses documentary, photography and multimedia forms of storytelling.

Kannan was born in Jaffna and grew up in London. His work has appeared in The Guardian, The New Yorker, AOL Originals, in addition to broadcasts on BBC and Al Jazeera English. His films have been screened at international film festivals and art museums, including Seattle South Asian Film Festival (2015); Neuberger Museum of Art, N.Y. (2014); Rubin Museum of Art, N.Y.C. (2015); and selected for Film South Asia’s Travelling Film Festivals (2011, 2013, 2015). Kannan is a director at the Los Angeles based production company, Stateless Media that produces its signature shortreals for online platforms. In 2013, he was awarded best documentary short for Kerosene (16 mins) at the Seattle South Asian International Documentary Festival and the Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation’s best documentary short prize for The Story of One (19 mins).

Kannan has over 5 years of experience in media production working for a variety of clients and under different grants including the Ford Foundation, the US State Department and the World Bank. In addition, he has 8 years of experience of working in media restrictive, conflict and post-conflict environments, during which he conceptualised and developed award-winning new media narrative projects. He studied Psychology at the University of Cambridge (1992-95) and International Human Rights at the University of Oxford (2007-08), focusing on media and conflict. Kannan is also a qualified media and human rights lawyer. In 2015 he was a visiting lecturer at Cornell University, N.Y., teaching a course on media representations of the Sri Lankan conflict.

Kannan currently lives in Colombo and Bangkok and is available to work internationally.

Portfolio

‘Sampur’ documentary, released 6 April 2016

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Sampur (30 mins) about a community’s struggle to return home, after decades of conflict and displacement. The film follows three families from Sampur, eastern Sri Lanka over three months, in the wake of the community’s court case victory against the government to return to their homes after the war. Commissioned by CPA and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. Documentary trailer here.

‘Thep’ shortreal posted on Upworthy, nearly 1/2 million views, 30 March 2016

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Upworthy posted our shortreal Thep — a mild-mannered surgeon in a storefront clinic in Bangkok who gives people the bodies they’ve always wanted. He almost never sleeps or eats, and he keeps his mobile by his side always. He’s glad the rest of the world is finally catching up. Directed, shot and cut by Kannan Arunasalam for Stateless Media.

‘News from Jaffna’ (Director’s cut) selected for 14th Film South Asia’s Travelling Film Festival, November 2015

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A young reporter dares to cover press freedom in one of the world’s most dangerous places for journalists – Sri Lanka.

‘News from Jaffna’ (Director’s cut) screened at Seattle South Asian Film Festival, 16 October 2015

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A young reporter dares to cover press freedom in one of the world’s most dangerous places for journalists – Sri Lanka.

Release of ‘The People’s Prophet’, The Guardian, 7 September 2015

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Release of our Stateless Media shortreal ‘The People’s Prophet‘ on The Guardian, 7 September 2015 “Elections take place in November in Myanmar, with Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD party expected to win most seats. But alongside the political debate, there’s another conflict – between each side’s astrologers, for whom advising politicians is a lucrative business. [...]

Release of ‘Citizen Mars’, Stateless Media, AOL Originals, Engadget, 1 September 2015

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Latest series of shortreals, Stateless Media’s ‘Citizen Mars‘, commissioned by AOL Originals and Engadget. It was an absolute pleasure to capture would-be Marstronaut Shradha Prasad’s story from India, and the entire Stateless Media team. “We go in depth with five of the finalists for the Mars One mission: everyday people determined to be the first [...]

Myanmar: Portraits of Diversity, Rubin Museum of Art, New York, 15 April 2015

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Screening of my short films on religious co-existence with the amazing Buddhist monk, the Venerable Tayzar Dipati, leading the discussion. Myanmar: Portraits of Diversity, Rubin Museum of Art, 150 West 17th St. New York, NY 10011 on 15 April 2015

USIP screening of Myanmar Portraits of Diversity, Washington DC, 9 April 2015

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Special screening organised by United States Institute for Peace (USIP) of Myanmar Portraits of Diversity, “Burma’s Peace Potential: Portraits of Diversity”, U.S. Institute of Peace 2301 Constitution Ave. NW Washington, DC, 9 April 2015

‘News from Jaffna’ commissioned by Al Jazeera English, broadcast on 29 September 2014

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‘News from Jaffna’ (25 mins) was commissioned by the Al Jazeera Witness team under its Viewfinder Asia programme, and first broadcast on 29 September 2014. A young reporter dares to cover press freedom in one of the world’s most dangerous places for journalists – Sri Lanka.

Screenings and Q&A, ‘New South Asian Documentary: On and Off Screen’, New York University, 25-27 September 2015

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Screening/Presentation: A selection of work by Kannan Arunasalam followed by Q&A with Kannan Arunasalam and Vasuki Nesiah (Gallatin Human Rights Initiative). ‘New South Asian Documentary: On and Off Screen’, New York University, New York, 25-27 September 2015

Photography

A selection of photographs from my portfolio from Sri Lanka and Burma 2010-2014. Please get in touch if you’d like to purchase any of these images.

Copyright © 2009-14 Kannan Arunasalam

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