‘Funny Boy’ is Canada’s entry for the foreign language Oscar | Daily News

‘Funny Boy’ is Canada’s entry for the foreign language Oscar

Nearly 25 years ago, Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta released ‘Fire’, a film that proved as incandescent as its name. When it hit the screens in her motherland, India, it would be the first time a mainstream film explored and presented homosexual love: two sisters-in-law (played by noted actors Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das) in a traditional Delhi household fall in love with each other.

India produces and consumes more films than any other country on earth, but ‘Fire’ took on a subject so taboo, that it resulted in a death threat for Mehta and violent protests and vandalism at cinema halls where it was showing.

After all, few things are more threatening to the patriarchy than women saying they don’t need men. It caused uproars in Parliament, with some right-wing politicians claiming the film was an insult to Hindu tradition and an attack on the sanctity of the institution of marriage.

It also was a major box office success, spurring a civil movement in support of queer rights and free speech, with men and women holding candlelight protests in front of cinema halls, and insisting the film continue to be screened.‘Fire’ would go on to win a slew of awards and remains a landmark film that continues to be discussed. At around the same time, just over 25 years ago, another Canadian of South Asian origin—Sri Lanka–born novelist Shyam Selvadurai—released his evocative coming-of-age novel Funny Boy’, about growing up gay in Sri Lanka during the Tamil-Sinhalese conflict—one of the country’s most turbulent and deadly periods.

It too, was a rarity, questioning brown masculinity and making a space for brown, queer love. It went on to win a “Lammy” (as the Lambda Literary Award for Gay fiction is called).Recently, fans of Mehta and Selvadurai were delighted to see an announcement from another path-breaker, Ava Du Vernay, whose incredible directorial work includes the films ‘13th’ and ‘Selma’.

Du Vernay tweeted that her distribution house ARRAY was set to release ‘Funny Boy’ on Netflix on December 10: “When you get to distribute the latest feature film from one of your cinematic heroes, it is a good day. Wow. An honour. A dream.”