Kannan Arunasalam

Kannan is a British–Sri Lankan documentary filmmaker.

Kannan’s work has appeared in The Guardian, The New Yorker, AOL Originals, in addition to broadcasts on BBC and Al Jazeera English. In 2013, he was awarded best documentary short for Kerosene (16 mins) at the Seattle South Asian International Documentary Festival and in 2014, given the Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation’s best documentary short prize for The Story of One (19 mins). His films have screened at international film festivals and art museums, including Neuberger Museum of Art, N.Y. (2014); Rubin Museum of Art, N.Y.C. (2015); Edinburgh Fringe Festival (2016); Dhaka Art Summit (2018); 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.

Kannan has over 7 years of experience in media production working for a variety of clients and under different grants, including the Ford Foundation (2009), the US State Department (2010-2013) and the Mellon Foundation (2016). In addition, he has 12 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 is based in Colombo and London and is available to work internationally.


Documentary screenings, Dhaka Art Summit, 2-10 February 2018

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Delighted to have shown three of my short films (including ‘Paper’, 2011, film still above) at the 2018 Dhaka Art Summit’s ’One Hundred Thousand Small Tales’, curated by Sharmini Pereira.

Doc short ‘Thep’ is Official Selection at VAEFF, NYC, 9-11 November 2017

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A raw cut of ‘Thep’ (2016), my documentary short was selected for 7th Annual Video Art and Experimental Film Festival (VAEFF). The festival ”introduces New York City to the most conceptually and aesthetically arresting, daring and provocative experimental films from around the world.” Directed, shot and edited by Kannan Arunasalam. Produced by Stateless Media.

Invitation to Havana, Cuba from Cornell University’s AAP, Sep. – Oct. 2016

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Invitation from Cornell University’s Architecture, Art and Planning and the Society for the Humanities to participate in Cuba as Project: Mellon Seminar Visits Havana “The Mellon seminar students were joined by DuFour’s architecture option studio, Havana After Nature, as well as three invited guests — documentary filmmaker Kannan Arunasalam, architectural historian and theorist Iulia Statica…”

Release of “Trust Disrupted: Bitcoin and the Blockchain”, Stateless Media, AOL Originals, TechCrunch, October 2016

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Cinematographer on Stateless Media’s documentary series on the rise of bitcoin, “Trust Disrupted: Bitcoin and the Blockchain”, Stateless Media, AOL Originals, TechCrunch, October 2016

‘Sampur’ documentary, released 6 April 2016


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


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


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 [...]


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