Funded by Telefilm Canada and CBC Films, the feature is based on the best-selling novel by Shyam Selvadurai about a young boy’s sexual awakening in Sri Lanka during the turbulent Tamil-Sinhalese conflict
As part of the national public broadcaster’s commitment to bring Canadian film to audiences across the country, CBC and Telefilm Canada will offer the exclusive broadcast and streaming World Premiere of Oscar®-nominee Deepa Mehta’s (Water, Heaven on Earth, Midnight’s Children) new film FUNNY BOY on CBC TV and the free CBC Gem streaming service Friday, December 4 at 8 p.m. (8:30 NT).
Based on the evocative coming-of-age novel by Shyam Selvadurai about growing up gay in Sri Lanka during the deadly Tamil-Sinhalese conflict, the film is co-written by Mehta and Selvadurai; produced by David Hamilton and Hussain Amarshi; and stars Brandon Ingram in his feature film debut, Nimmi Harasgama, Ali Kazmi, Agam Darshi, and Arush Nand as “young Arjie.”
“My mantra as a filmmaker has always been what one of the great filmmakers of all times, Luis Buñuel, said: ‘When a film is particular, that’s the very minute it becomes universal.’ 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,” said Mehta.
“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.”
Shot on location and set in Sri Lanka in the 1970s and 80s, FUNNY BOY explores 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, the boy comes of age in a society and family that doesn’t embrace differences outside of societal norms. The film chronicles Arjie’s struggle to find balance and self-love despite the absence of empathy and understanding.
Mehta’s work is celebrated on an international scale; her emotionally resonating, award-winning films have played every major film festival, and been sold and distributed around the globe. Her films include the Elemental Trilogy: Earth, Fire, and Water, the latter receiving an Oscar® nomination for Best Foreign Language Film; Bollywood/Hollywood; Heaven on Earth; and the epic adaptation of Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie’s three-time Booker Prize-winning novel. Her work challenges traditions and stereotypes and is always daring, fearless and provocative. It’s this spirit that saturated her last feature film, Anatomy of Violence. Mehta recently shot the pilot and second episode for the Netflix Original series, Leila, and is the creative executive producer for the show. She also directed “The Manager,” the pilot episode of Little America for AppleTV.
The novel Funny Boy, published by McClelland & Stewart, was the winner of the WH Smith Books/Books in Canada First Novel Award, and the Lambda Award for Best Gay Men’s Fiction (1997), and was shortlisted for the Giller Prize (1994) and named an American Library Association Notable Book (1996).
FUNNY BOY will be available to stream on-demand in Canada on CBC Gem following its CBC TV broadcast on December 4. The film will premiere on Netflix outside of Canada on Thursday, December 10. FUNNY BOY was made possible with the support of CBC Films, Telefilm Canada and Ontario Creates.
CBC Films funds high-quality features that reflect, represent, and reframe a range of perspectives through character-driven stories that are at the centre of the Canadian experience, spanning 24 features to date led by female, LGBTQ2+, Indigenous and diverse filmmakers. With a new Canadian film added to the CBC Gem streaming library each week, CBCstrives to create an unparalleled destination for Canadians to discover homegrown film.