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Galle Concerto to Invigorate tourism

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The Presidential Secretariat, the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau and the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, together with the sponsors have announced the launch of Galle Concerto 2024 – the Southern Festivals, and its Handbook, in the week beginning  12th  January to the end of March 2024. 

The festivals, set against the backdrop of the rich heritage architecture and vibrant coastal charm of the Southern province, brings together a diverse array of writers, poets, intellectuals, literary enthusiasts, musicians, artists and celebrity chefs from around the world.

The Galle Concerto 2024 is launched under the auspices of President Ranil Wickremesinghe, with the support of the Office of the Presidential Envoy, Hon Niranjan Deva Aditya. Speaking at the launch Hon Niranjan Deva Aditya said “with its unique blend of cultural immersion and intellectual stimulation, the Galle Concerto including the famous  Galle Literary Festival has become a distinguished and much-anticipated event, drawing both local and international acclaim for its contribution to the global cultural landscape. This year, it will be more than just a literary comeback; the festivals will feature a wide range of events and performances, including several musical events, a food festival, modern art and a book exhibition, showcasing Sri Lanka’s rich cultural diversity”. He added ” these events show that Sri Lanka is resurgent once again, a beacon of confidence in her cultural, musical, literary and culinary excellence. HE the President worked tirelessly over last year to bring about this renaissance to showcase that Sri Lanka, in all her resplendence, is back on the world stage”.

Also present were Mr.Chalaka Gajabahu – Chairman  Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, Ms.Tracy Holsinger  – Galle Literary Festival,  Mr.Edward Robinson – Southern Book Fair , Ms.Chanchala Gunewardena – Matara Festival for the Arts, Mr.Nilupul Gunawardena – Rhythms of Paradise , Mrs.Champika De Silva – Opera at the Anantara , and Mr. Damitha Nikapota – Gourmet Galle, who spoke of their respective segments.

The Concerto comprises of the Rhythms of Paradise drum festival in Koggala (12th – 14th January), the Gourmet Galle Food Festival (12th January – 30th March), the Classical Music Event in Tangalle (19th – 21st January), the Southern Book Fair in Galle (19th – 28th January), the Galle Literary Festival (25th – 28th January), and the Matara Festival for the Arts (1st – 4th February)..
It will be the largest promotion of Sri Lanka’s music, culture, art and food ever undertaken, reaching out to a global audience, marketed throughout South Asia and the world.

Rhythms of Paradise, Koggala
Rhythms of Paradise Koggala (12th -14th January, 2024), is a celebration of Sri Lanka’s rhythmic heritage, uniting diverse drumming traditions to create a symphony that echoes through the night. The event will also include sessions on classical and contemporary Sri Lankan literature, natural and cultural heritage excursions and a Sri Lanka Maritime heritage exhibition. The opening celebration and drum festival will be held at the Koggala Air Force Base. Literary sessions will be held at the Martin Wickramasinghe Folk Museum. The Flagship event will conclude with a concert by internationally acclaimed Sri Lankan artists.

Gourmet Galle
Gourmet Galle will be a 12 week-long gourmet festival up and down the Southern coast of Sri Lanka. A partner to the incredibly successful Galle Literary Festival, Gourmet Galle will feature dinners, afternoon tea and master classes with thirteen amazing celebrity and world-renowned chefs along the Southern coast of Sri Lanka. The dinners will take place in exquisite homes and the finest boutique hotels, carefully curated to make each weekend its own unique and incredible event.

Opera at the Anantara
The Art and Music Weekend from the 19th – 21st January 2024 at Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle promises to curate an indelible ambiance of refined creativity and immersive experiences for discerning visitors and festival enthusiasts. This elevated occasion is poised to serve as a distinguished platform, harmonizing the expressions of local artists such as the Gustav Mahler orchestra and Chrisni Mendis, and international musicians such as Jorge Echeagaray, Barbara Segal, and Carlos Conde-González, showcasing their artistry and virtuosity.

Southern Book Fair 2024
Parallel to the Galle Literary Festival, the Commonwealth Book Publishers Network will present the Southern Book Fair (19th to 28th January 2024). This event is designed to bring the joy of literature closer to the people of the Southern Province, fostering a culture of learning, sharing, and acquiring literary treasures.

Galle Literary Festival 2024
The Galle Literary Festival has now become an annual literary festival held in the historic coastal town of Galle.  It was first established in 2005 and has since become one of the most prominent literary events in the region. Over 65 renowned speakers, including Booker Prize winners, esteemed authors, poets and journalists will provide literature enthusiasts with a diverse and memorable experience. The festival will take place over several days and features a diverse program of events, including author talks, panel discussions, book launches, literary workshops, and cultural performances. The Galle Literary Festival will be held from the 25th to the 28th of January 2024, in partnership with Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB).  

Matara Festival for the Arts (MFA)
The inaugural Matara Festival for the Arts (MFA) sets the stage ablaze from the 1st to the 4th of February 2024! Set against the mesmerizing backdrop of the UNESCO-listed Matara Fort, this celebration promises an immersive experience in contemporary art and music, not just from the heart of Sri Lanka but resonating beyond its borders.

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Stars to return for first Shrek film for 16 years

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Shrek’s long-awaited return has been confirmed, with Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz all set to return for the lovable green ogre’s first film for 16 years.

A plotline for the movie is yet to be revealed, but Myers will play the title character, Diaz will voice Shrek’s wife Princess Fiona and Murphy will return as sidekick Donkey.

Announcing the news, DreamWorks Animation said on X: “Not too Far, Far Away… Shrek 5 is coming to theatres on July 1 2026 with Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, and Cameron Diaz.”

The first film was released back in 2001, and won the first Oscar for best animated feature film.

It was a huge hit for DreamWorks, making $487m worldwide at the box office.

Shrek 2 was released in 2004, Shrek The Third came out in 2007, and Shrek Forever After hit cinemas in 2010.

Shrek 5 will in fact be the seventh film in the wider franchise, after Antonio Banderas’ character had two spin-off films – Puss In Boots and Puss In Boots: The Last Wish.

It is unknown whether Bandreas will be back for Shrek 5.

Murphy hinted in an interview with Collider last month that Donkey could also be getting his own spin-off movie.

He also said work on Shrek 5 started “months ago”.

“I recorded the first act, and we’ll be doing it this year, we’ll finish it up,” he said.

“Shrek is coming out and Donkey’s gonna have his own movie.”

(BBC News)

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Hollywood icon Paramount agrees $28bn merger deal

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One of Hollywood’s oldest companies, Paramount Global, has agreed to merge with independent film studio Skydance Media.

Under the deal, Paramount’s non-executive chair Shari Redstone will sell her family’s controlling stake in the company in a complex transaction that will result in a new firm worth around $28bn (£21.9bn).

It marks the end of an era for the Redstone family, whose late patriarch, Sumner Redstone, transformed a chain of drive-in cinemas into a vast media empire.

As well as Paramount, the group includes the television networks CBS, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and MTV.

“Our hope is that the Skydance transaction will enable Paramount’s continued success in this rapidly changing environment,” Ms Redstone said in a statement.

According to the company its TV channels have a global reach of over 4.3 billion subscribers across more than 180 countries.

The merger would combine Paramount, home of classic films such as Chinatown and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, with its financial partner on several recent big releases, including Top Gun: Maverick and Star Trek Into Darkness.

Under the agreement, Skydance will invest around $8bn in Paramount, including paying $2.4bn for National Amusements, which controls the group.

National Amusements owns just 10% of Paramount Group’s shares but accounts for almost 80% of its voting rights.

Paramount said it expected to close the deal by the summer of next year.

Paramount Global traces its origins back more than a century to the founding of Paramount Pictures Corporation in 1914.

The studio has made many hit films, including the Godfather, Star Trek, and Mission: Impossible series.

But the entertainment giant has struggled over the past decade. Paramount Global’s shares have fallen by more than 75% in the last five years.

Skydance is owned by David Ellison, the son of Larry Ellison, who founded US technology giant Oracle.

The announcement came after eight months of negotiations that saw Redstone holding talks with a number of potential partners including Sony and private equity firm Apollo.

In April, Paramount’s chief executive Bob Bakish left the company after clashing with Ms Redstone over the planned Skydance deal.

The deal comes as the global entertainment industry is being transformed by the video-streaming revolution.

(BBC News)

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Arundhati Roy wins PEN Pinter Prize for ‘powerful voice’

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Indian author Arundhati Roy has said that she is “delighted” to have been awarded this year’s PEN Pinter Prize.

Set up in memory of playwright Harold Pinter, the award is for writers of “outstanding literary merit” who take an “unflinching” look at the world.

The announcement comes weeks after officials in India approved action against Roy under anti-terror laws for comments she made 14 years ago.

Roy is a Booker Prize-winning author and has written about human rights issues in India as well as war and capitalism globally.

English PEN chair Ruth Borthwick praised Roy for telling “urgent stories of injustice with wit and beauty”.

“While India remains an important focus, she is truly an internationalist thinker, and her powerful voice is not to be silenced,” Borthwick said.

Roy, 62, is an outspoken writer and activist and could face prosecution by the Narendra Modi government for comments she made in 2010 about Kashmir – a controversial topic in India.

She is a polarising figure and has often been targeted by right-wing groups for her speeches and writings.

Roy has been outspoken in her criticism about the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government’s alleged targeting of Muslims and has also spoken about India’s declining press freedoms during Mr Modi’s tenure.

She will receive the PEN Pinter Prize on 10 October in a ceremony co-hosted by the British Library.

The prize was set up in 2009 by English PEN, a charity that says it defends freedom of expression and celebrates literature.

Previous winners include Michael Rosen, Malorie Blackman, Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie, Tom Stoppard and Carol Ann Duffy.

On winning the prize, Roy said: “I wish Harold Pinter were with us today to write about the almost incomprehensible turn the world is taking. Since he isn’t, some of us must do our utmost to try to fill his shoes.”

Roy has written numerous books and non-fiction essays, but she is best known for her novel, The God of Small Things, which won the Booker Prize in 1997.

(BBC News)

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