Synopsis by Josh Ralske
Veteran Sri Lankan writer/director Lester James Peries' Mansion by the Lake is loosely based on Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard. In the late '80s, after living in London for many years, Sujata (Malini Fonseka), her brother Gunapala (Sanath Gunathilaka), and her daughter Aruni (Paboda Sandeepani) return to the countryside of Sri Lanka, where the family estate her sister Sita (Vasanthi Chaturani) has been taking care of is about to be auctioned off by the bank. While her husband was gravely ill, Sujata took out a loan, signing papers that gave the bank control of the property. Returning to the mansion brings back memories both pleasant and painful. Sujata is particularly traumatized by the memory of the drowning death of her young son. The boy's tutor, Keerthi (Senaka Wijesinghe) arrives to pay his respects, and also to see Aruni, with whom he shared an attraction when they were teens. Keerthi is now a strident political activist, a very dangerous occupation in turbulent times. To save their land, the family tries to borrow money from a senile elderly relative, Aunt Catherine (Iranganie Serasinghe), and contacts Lucas (Ravindra Randeniya), a former employee who has since made a fortune. As their hopes of keeping their legacy dim, they begin to suspect that Lucas is actually plotting against them. Mansion by the Lake was shown at the 2003 New York Film Festival.