Ava DuVernay’s outfit ARRAY Releasing continues to build up filmmakers of color and women. Its latest slate, including the films “Donkeyhead” and “Definition Please,” will premiere January 21 on Netflix in the U.S., U.K., Australia, and New Zealand. Exclusively on IndieWire, watch the trailer premiere below for “Donkeyhead,” directed by and starring Agam Darshi, ahead of its streaming release.
Here’s the official synopsis for the film, which world-premiered at the TIFF Bell Lightbox and tackles the Punjabi Sikh experience in Canada: “‘Donkeyhead’ is a film whose title references a term of endearment used by Punjabi parents towards their children. Starring, written and directed by Darshi, the film follows Mona, a failed writer who carves out a life of isolation while caring for her ailing Sikh father. When he suffers a debilitating stroke, her three successful siblings show up on her doorstep determined to take control of the situation.”
English-Canadian writer-director and star Darshi most recently starred in Oscar-nominated director Deepa Mehta’s “Funny Boy,” which earned her a Canadian Screen Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
Along with Darshi, “Donkeyhead” stars Kim Coates (“Sons of Anarchy”), Sandy Sidhu (“Nurses,” “Legends of Tomorrow”), Stephen Lobo (“Arrow”), Huse Madhavji (“Schitt’s Creek”), Marvin Ishmael (“Degrassi: The Next Generation”), and Balinder Johal (“Beeba Boys”).
“Donkeyhead” had its world premiere at the Mosaic International South Asian Film Festival at TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto, where it received four awards including Best Fiction Feature and Best Canadian Feature. Darshi can next be seen in Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning director Ava DuVernay’s upcoming HBO Max series “DMZ.”
The film, as Darshi told Variety, draws inspiration from the talky family movies of Noah Baumbach, and is a family dramedy wrought from her own experiences coping with her father as he underwent chemotherapy. “Donkeyhead,” as she explained, also deals with South Asian families pressuring their children to have great careers. “The pressure to have a successful career, whether it is being a doctor or writer, whatever you choose, it’s very high,” she said. “It’s, in a lot of ways, keeping up with the Joneses. And then when you add the fact that it is an immigrant family, it’s even higher.”