Acquired by Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY Releasing earlier this month, Deepa Mehta’s “Funny Boy,” an adaptation of Shyam Selvadurai’s 1994 novel of the same name, has been announced as Canada’s official selection for Best International Feature Film for the 2021 Academy Awards. Set for release on Netflix beginning Thursday, December 10, ARRAY has premiered a first-look trailer for the film.
Shot on location in Colombo, Sri Lanka, “Funny Boy” centers on the “awakening of sexual identity by a young boy named Arjie. As political tensions escalate to a boiling point between the minority Tamils and the majority Sinhalese, a young boy comes of age in a society and family that doesn’t embrace difference outside of societal norms. The film chronicles Arjie’s struggle to find balance and self-love despite the absence of empathy and understanding.”
It’s a coming-of-age story about growing up in Sri Lanka during one of the country’s most turbulent periods in the ‘70s and ’80s.
“My mantra as a filmmaker has always been what one of the great filmmakers of all time, Luis Buñuel, said: ‘When a film is particular, that’s the very minute it becomes universal,'” said Mehta in a press statement. “‘Funny Boy,’ set on the island of Sri Lanka in the middle of its long and bloody civil war, is also a film about the power of love. In many ways, ‘Funny Boy’ reflects the times of divisiveness we are living in today, where the call for a just society, a call for humanity is what we are all striving for.”
“Deepa Mehta’s ‘Funny Boy’ builds upon the iconic filmmaker’s provocative canon of work as a film that is beautiful to the eye and emotional for the heart,” said DuVernay and ARRAY president Tilane Jones in a joint statement. “Her singular vision for adapting this best-selling novel invites film lovers to delve deep into themes of identity, acceptance and family, while she shares the majesty and turmoil of Sri Lanka during this particular time in history.”
Mehta’s previous films include the Elemental Trilogy: “Fire” (1996), “Earth” (1998), and “Water” (2005). The latter was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Other key credits include the adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s “Midnight’s Children.”
Co-written by Mehta and author Selvadurai, and produced by David Hamilton, “Funny Boy” stars Arush Nand and Brandon Ingram. The cast also includes Nimmi Harasgama, Ali Kazmi, Agam Darshi, Seema Biswas, Rehan Mudannayake, and Shivantha Wijesinha.
The film marks the seventh release in 2020 for ARRAY Releasing. Other titles distributed this year include Stephanie Turner’s “Justine,” Simon Frederick’s “They’ve Gotta Have Us,” Numa Perrier’s “Jezebel,” Isabel Sandoval’s “Lingua France,” and Merawi Gerima’s “Residue.”
Check out the trailer and poster for “Funny Boy” below.