Gehan Cooray makes Sri Lanka proud as his Hollywood film is awarded at prestigious Burbank International Film Festival
The gifted Sri Lankan, Gehan Cooray’s Hollywood film, ‘The Billionaire’ has won the prestigious award for Best Comedy Feature Film at the Burbank International Film Festival on 13th of September 2020, a historic win for a young Sri Lankan American filmmaker for his very first feature length movie. ‘The Billionaire’ is Gehan’s very own screen adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s play, ‘The Millionairess’. Cooray has achieved yet another feat by producing, writing the screenplay and portraying the title role. One of Sri Lanka’s sons enjoying success on this scale raises the profile of the country and places it on the map of Hollywood. Born and raised in Sri Lanka, Gehan is now living in Hollywood. A past pupil of St. Joseph’s College, Colombo, Gehan graduated from the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles.
No stranger to arclights, Gehan had already made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2019 with a solo concert in New York, with the Chef de Cabinet to the United Nations Secretary General looking on as Chief Guest. Previously, Gehan has produced and acted in short films, which have been lauded at multiple film festivals. His prowess extends from being an Actor, Classical Baritone Singer, Writer, Producer to an independent Filmmaker, prompting Marc Cherry, the creator of hit TV series ‘Desperate Housewives’ to refer to Gehan as a ‘multi-hyphenate’, Hollywood speak for multitalented and multifaceted artist.
Writing, producing and playing the title role in ‘The Billionaire’, a feature film version of such a sophisticated literary classic is a tremendous challenge in and of itself, but to so successfully is a triumph. The celebrity judging panel of the Burbank International Film Festival recognized and rewarded him. Celebrities and industry professionals play crucial roles in the festival’s selection process. Guest judges have included RJ Mitte (Breaking Bad), Patricia Bethune (True Blood/Mad Men), Daniel Roebuck (Lost), writers Andy Glickman (Mad About You), Ben Bledsoe (Glee) as well as legendary animator Bill Plympton to name a few.
‘The Billionaire’ was shot on location in Ontario, Canada and the cast includes the seven-time Emmy Award winning actress Heather Tom (from ‘The Bold and the Beautiful’ and ‘The Young and the Restless’), Jordan Belfi from the hit TV series ‘Entourage’, Davi Santos known for his work in the ‘Power Rangers’ TV franchise, and Randy Wayne from ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’ and numerous Hallmark channel films. The film was directed by Michael Philip, although Gehan held final creative control as the Executive Producer.
After receiving this accolade for the very first Hollywood film produced by him, Gehan joins the ranks of other industry icons in the world of film, music and art honoured by the Burbank International Film Festival. Some of the notable winners are (Iron Man 3) Writer/Director Shane Black, (JAWS) Screenwriter Carl Gottlieb, award-winning Actor John Savage (Deer Hunter), Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk), Modern Family star Ariel Winter, Academy Award-winning Make-up Artists Stan Winston (Terminator 2 & 3), Michael Westmore (all Star Trek Series), Creature and Concept Designer Neville Page (Oblivion, Avatar), Academy Award-winning Animation Directors Brenda Chapman (Brave) and Jennifer Yuh Nelson (Kung Fu Panda 2 & 3), award-winning composers Marco Beltrami (A Quiet Place, World War Z), and Christopher Young (Spiderman 3) among many others.