Kannan Arunasalam

Kannan is a British–Sri Lankan documentary filmmaker.

Kannan’s work has appeared in The Guardian, The New Yorker, Upworthy, Engadget, TechCrunch, Buzzfeed, AOL Studios, 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.


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.

Press: Article on The Brothers Shaikh, Freedom House, 1 August 2013

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Stateless Media founder, Peter Savodnik’s article in Freedom House: Impunity and the Power of the Press in Sri Lanka: “I reported the story, and I worked with two brilliant filmmakers. Kannan Arunasalam, in Sri Lanka, was artful and fearless; he helped illustrate the beauty and darkness of a country that is still struggling to figure [...]

New film: ‘The Brothers Shaikh’ posted on The New Yorker, 24 July 2013


The new film I co-directed about the killing of British tourist Khuram Shaikh in Sri Lanka, was posted on The New Yorker, 24 July 2013. The Brothers Shaikh, produced and reported by Peter Savodnik, directed and filmed by Kannan Arunasalam and Ed Perkins. A Stateless Media Production.

‘Paper’ screened at Guggenheim Museum, New York, April 2013


My documentary short Paper was screened as part of a lecture on South Asian contemporary art, Guggenheim Museum, New York, April 2013

‘Kerosene’ wins best documentary short, SAID 2013, Seattle, USA


My film ‘Kerosene’ (16 mins) is the winner of the Prism award for best documentary short at the Seattle South Asian International Documentary Festival 2013.

‘Kerosene’ at South Asian International Documentary Festival 2013, SIFF Center, Seattle


Kerosene (16 mins) in competition at South Asian International Documentary Festival 2013, Seattle, USA.

PIX Quarterly, India, October 2012


Featured in the Sri Lankan edition of this photography quarterly magazine.

‘Expressions of Identity’, Royal Commonwealth Society, London

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Invited to share some of my work at this event in London organised by the Royal Commonwealth Society, International Alert and Voices for Reconciliation; chaired by George Alagiah and speaking alongside the writer Roshi Fernando and playwright Prassanna Puwanarajah.

Kerosene film screened at 8th Aljazeera International Documentary Film Festival 2012


Short documentary film (16 mins) in competition at annual Aljazeera film festival in Doha, April 2012.