Sanjeewa Pushpakumara‘s Flying Fish, a Sri Lankan civil war drama, has been praised by Indiewire contributor Meredith Brody for having “striking and assured compositions” with “astonishing saturated colors” and “more beautiful shots, I think, than in The Tree of Life.”

Brody caught Flying Fish at the 2011 Seattle Film Festival. It’s also been seen at the Rotterdam Film Festival, and is reportedly slated to play at the Museum of Modern Art’s Contemporary Asian Film series (July 7th through 13th) as well as the forthcoming 47th Chicago International Film Festival next October.

So why isn’t Flying Fish playing at the about-to-begin LA FilmFest? It sounds as if Pushpakumara’s film is at least worth seeing. Did LAFF programmers drop the ball?

Prior to the recent Seattle showing Pushpakumara “giggles through a somewhat off-putting introduction that prophesies numerous walkouts,” Brody writes, “since he did not make an enjoyable movie. It sounds like he’s daring us to endure it. Imagine my surprise when I do.

“The acting is rudimentary in three entwined stories of shocking sex and shocking violence set against the…endless Sri Lankan civil war.”

A 4.17.11 Sri Lanka Times story by Susitha R. Fernando says the following about Flying Fish:

“This daring, exciting story from northern Sri Lanka convincingly captures the madness in a land where the psychology of war is omnipresent. Three parallel stories deal with the attempts of ordinary village people to lead a normal life in abnormal circumstances.

“Through three parallel stories this daring debut deals with economic and even greater spiritual decay as the result of a civil war lasting more than two decades.

“A beautiful village girl falls in love with a soldier. Her father, 45-year-old Muthubanda, is against this. When his daughter falls pregnant, Muthubanda is harassed and humiliated by soldiers. He commits suicide and the girl flees the village. Her guilt and rage push her to do the least expected.

“A middle-aged widow takes care of her eight children in a village filled with tension between the army and the Tamil Tigers. She has an affair with a local and her son comes to know about it. His frustration drives him to something that will change all his siblings overnight.

“A thirteen-year-old Tamil girl lives in a village where the battle between the Tamil Tigers and the army is extremely intensive. Tamil forces are conducting active war propaganda in local schools. One night, they break into the girl’s house and demand a huge ransom for her. She chooses to escape.”