Canada Enters International Feature Film Oscar Race With Deepa Mehta’s ‘Funny Boy’
Deepa Mehta’s “Funny Boy” will represent Canada in the race for best international feature film at the 2021 Oscars.
Based on the best-selling novel by Shyam Selvadurai, the film follows a young boy’s sexual awakening in Sri Lanka during the turbulent Tamil-Sinhalese conflict leading up to the civil war. Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY Releasing picked up the film for distribution earlier this month, with a Netflix release planned for Dec. 10, as revealed by Variety.
Mehta’s film “Water,” the third feature in her Elements trilogy, was Oscar-nominated in the international feature film category in 2007.
“Eleven outstanding films were submitted this year, and we are confident that Deepa Mehta’s ‘Funny Boy’ will appeal to Academy members just as her powerful film ‘Water’ did in 2007, when it was nominated in this prestigious category,” said Christa Dickenson, executive director of Telefilm Canada.
Telefilm coordinates and chairs — without voting right — the pan-Canadian selection committee that decides the Canadian entry. The committee comprises some 20 members representing key government agencies and national film industry associations.
“Over the last several months, the audiovisual industry has experienced many challenges brought on by the pandemic, and as we continue to navigate in this new reality, let us come together as a country. This year more than ever, we should all rally around the team behind ‘Funny Boy’ to help them reach the highest peak. The Oscars are an exceptional showcase of the incredible work in our industry, and Telefilm is delighted to partner with these talented filmmakers as we go forward.”
Mehta said, “It is Brecht who said ‘Art is not a mirror held up to reality but a hammer with which to shape it.’ We live in a world with borders, with divisions and differences. But now more than ever, we need each other, we need love and compassion and togetherness. ‘Funny Boy’ to me is about humanity and hope. It’s about holding up a flag of inclusion, in a world tethering towards an abyss of the great divide. David Hamilton and myself thank the jurors across Canada who saw fit to support our film ‘Funny Boy.’”
“Funny Boy” will be available to stream on-demand in Canada via public broadcaster CBC’s on-demand service CBC Gem, following its CBC broadcast on Dec. 4. The film will premiere on Netflix outside of Canada on Dec. 10.
To date, 23 countries have submitted their nominations for the best international feature film, including the Côte d’Ivoire-Sénégal-France-Canada co-production “La nuit des Rois” by Philippe Lacôte, présented by la Côté d’Ivoire. Last year, 93 countries contended for the shortlist.
In the history of the Oscars, eight Canadian films have been official nominees in the best foreign language film category, most recently in 2013 with Kim Nguyen’s “Rebelle.”
Other nominees include “Monsieur Lazhar” (2012) by Philippe Falardeau and “In Darkness” by Agniezska Holland, which was a minority coproduction with Poland and Germany; “Incendies” (2011) by Denis Villeneuve; and “Water” (2007) from Mehta. The list also includes three films by Denys Arcand: “Le Déclin de l’empire américain” (1987), “Jésus de Montréal” (1990) and “Les Invasions barbares” (2003), which is the only Canadian film to have won the Oscar in this category.
A shortlist of 10 films for the international feature film category will be unveiled on Feb. 9, and the five official nominees will be announced on March 15. The 93rd annual Academy Awards will take place on April 25.