CBC and Telefilm Canada will offer the exclusive broadcast and streaming World Premiere of Oscar®-nominee Deepa Mehta’s (Water, Fire, 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). The film will also represent Canada in the race for Best International Feature Film at the 93rd Academy Awards ceremony, taking place on April 25, 2021.

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.

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.” 

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.”

TORONTO, ON – OCTOBER 06: Deepa Mehta attends the 2016 Canada’s Walk Of Fame Awards at Allstream Centre on October 6, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by George Pimentel/WireImage)

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). 

Read more about Funny Boy and an interview with Deepa Mehta here.

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.

About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.