Kannan Arunasalam

I am an award-winning filmmaker, narrative journalist and media consultant who uses documentary, photography and multimedia forms of storytelling. I grew up in London and now split my time between Sri Lanka, Cambodia and the United Kingdom.

My work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Guardian and broadcast on Aljazeera English; screened at international documentary festivals; and selected as one of the best documentaries from South Asia for 2011-12. My first film ‘Kerosene’ (16 mins) won best documentary short at the South Asian International Documentary Festival 2013, Seattle. My subsequent documentary short ‘The Story of One’ (19 mins) won the inaugural Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation grant prize, 2013.

I have 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, I have 8 years of experience of working in media restrictive, conflict and post-conflict environments, during which I conceptualised and developed award-winning new media narrative projects. I am also a qualified media and human rights lawyer and a former correspondent for Radio Netherlands Worldwide. I studied psychology at the University of Cambridge and international human rights at the University of Oxford, focusing on new media and conflict.

I am available to work internationally, and especially in South and South East Asia and the United Kingdom.




A series of video portraits featuring individuals that represent Myanmar’s different religious communities and highlight the kinds of interfaith connections and engagement that take place naturally around the country. Directed by Kannan Arunasalam Filmed & edited by Ed Perkins & Kannan Arunasalam Commissioned by the Centre for Peace & Conflict Studies

COMING SOON: Myanmar ‘Portraits of Diversity’


A series of short video portraits that seeks to highlight and celebrate Myanmar’s diversity of religious communities. Directed by Kannan Arunasalam Filmed & edited by Ed Perkins & Kannan Arunasalam Commissioned by the Centre for Peace & Conflict Studies

Review of ‘I Am’ in New York Times, 7 February 2014

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“For viewers halfway around the world, “I Am” offers both a rich portrait of a region through the eyes of its elders, as well as a reminder of how, when racial or ethnic differences are put in the foreground, they overshadow both public and private life. Kannan Arunasalam is a Sri Lankan-born artist who grew [...]

I AM project exhibited at Neuburger Museum of Art, Purchase, N.Y., January 4 – March 16, 2014

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The exhibition of twenty international artists and thirty artworks explores how artists express their individual and collective identities, and the relationships among memory, document, and fiction. The mixed media exhibition presents work that uses online data, remembrance, handiwork, genetics, gaming, and Google to mark the discord, beauty and banality that occur each day.

Winner of the inaugural Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation for Documentary Photography & Film annual prize for best documentary short, November 2013

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NEW YORK, NY –(Nov 19, 2013) – In its inaugural debut, The Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation for Documentary Photography & Film today awarded Sri Lankan journalist and filmmaker Kannan Arunasalam its first annual prize for best documentary ‘short-short’ film. “Rooted in reportage and traditional documentary filmmaking, Kannan’s film doesn’t try to tone down these atrocities. Instead, [...]

‘The Brothers Shaikh’, posted on The Guardian, 15 November 2013

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Our short film,’The Brothers Shaikh’, posted on The Guardian and voted its ‘Top Video’. A man searches for answers after his brother’s murder in Sri Lanka. Peter Savodnik, Kannan Arunasalam and Ed Perkins. Source: Stateless Media Length: 14min 40sec.

Documentary short, ‘The Story of One’ shortlisted for MRO Foundation grant prize, October 2013

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My documentary short, ‘The Story of One’ (19 mins), shortlisted for the 2013 ‘The Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation for Documentary Photography & Film’ documentary grant, films that highlight forgotten communities and people impacted by war.

Doc short posted on Guardian, to mark International Day of Peace, 21 September 2013

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Sri Lankan Olympian Nagalingam Ethirveerasingam on his hopes for reconciliation Diaspora communities can inspire peace in their country of origin, according to US citizen Dr Nagalingam Ethirveerasingam, a former Olympian of Tamil heritage who coaches young athletes in Sri Lanka. Though he is sceptical of the government’s reconciliation programme, he says sport can help heal [...]

My two documentary shorts accepted to Film South Asia 2013, Kathmandu


My two documentary shorts, Broken (15 mins) and The Story of One (18 m 54 s) were accepted into competition at Film South Asia 2013, selecting the best documentaries about South Asia over the previous two years.

My article about the ‘Making of the Brothers Shaikh’, Groundviews, 26 July 2013

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The making of ‘The Brothers Shaikh’, Groundviews, 26 July 2013: “When the journalist Peter Savodnik asked me to collaborate with him on making The Brothers Shaikh, I said no. I was scared. This was my home. I knew that if I crossed some invisible line, there would be repercussions. But then I changed my mind.” [...]


A selection of photographs from my portfolio, largely from the I Am collection. Please get in touch if you’d like to purchase any of these images.
Copyright © 2009-12 Kannan Arunasalam