Skip Navigation Links

Funny Boy by Deepa Mehta to represent Canada in the race for Best International Feature Film at the 2021 Oscars

29 October 2020

Montréal, October 29, 2020 — Funny Boy by cowriter-director Deepa Mehta will represent Canada in the race for Best International Feature Film at the 93rd Academy Awards ceremony, taking place on April 25, 2021.

“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. “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.”

“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,” said Deepa Mehta, cowriter-director of Funny Boy. “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. We thank Telefilm Canada who went the distance for us. CBC and Ontario Creates who gave much needed support and encouragement. And special thanks to dear Shyam Selvadurai for his beautiful novel Funny Boy, and to our brilliant cast and crew. Last but not the least Ava DuVernay and ARRAY for believing in our film. But most of all I would like to thank Canada for standing fast in its embrace of diversity in a world torn by fear of the other.”

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 Deepa Mehta and Shyam 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 will be available to stream on-demand in Canada via CBC Gem following its CBC TV broadcast on December 4. The film will premiere on Netflix outside of Canada on Thursday, December 10.


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.

About Deepa Mehta

Deepa Mehta’s work is celebrated on an international scale; her emotionally resonating, award-winning films have played in every major film festival, and have been sold and distributed around the globe. Her films include the Elemental Trilogy: EarthFire, and Water, the latter receiving an Oscar® nomination for Best Foreign Language Film; Bollywood/HollywoodHeaven 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.

For film photos, please click here.

As of today, 23 countries have submitted their nominations for the Best International Feature Film, including the Côte d’Ivoire-Sénégal-France-Canada La nuit des Rois by Philippe Lacôte, presented by la Côté d’Ivoire. Last year, 93 countries contended.

Canada in the Best International Feature Film (formerly Best Foreign Language Film) category at the Oscars

In the history of the Oscars, eight Canadian films have been official nominees in the Best Foreign Language Film category: in 2013, Rebelle by Kim Nguyen; in 2012, Monsieur Lazhar by Philippe Falardeau and In Darkness by Agniebska Holland (a minority coproduction with Poland and Germany); in 2011, Incendies by Denis Villeneuve; and, in 2007, Water by Deepa Mehta. The list also includes three films by Denys Arcand: Le Déclin de l’empire américain in 1987, Jésus de Montréal in 1990 and, in 2004, Les Invasions barbares, the only Canadian film to have won the Oscar in this category.

Selection process for Canada’s Best International Feature Film entry

Telefilm Canada coordinates and chairs the pan-Canadian Selection Committee, without voting right. The committee comprises some 20 members representing key government agencies and national film industry associations. It is responsible for choosing the film that will represent Canada at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which accepts only one film per country for the Best International Feature Film category. Submitted films must have been produced outside the United States in a language other than English and must have been theatrically exhibited in the submitting country for at least seven consecutive days between October 1, 2019, and December 31, 2019. A shortlist of 10 films will be unveiled on February 9, 2021, and the chosen five official nominees will be announced on March 15, 2021.

The unprecedented coronavirus/COVID-19 global pandemic mandated the closure of commercial motion picture theaters worldwide.  Until further notice and for the 93rd Awards year only, country selected films that had a previously planned theatrical release but are initially made available through a reputable commercial streaming distribution service or video on demand may qualify for awards consideration in the International Feature category for the 93rd Academy Awards.

For further information on Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences rules, please click here. 

About Telefilm Canada
Telefilm is dedicated to the cultural, commercial and industrial success of Canada’s audiovisual industry. Through funding and promotion programs, Telefilm supports dynamic companies and creative talent at home and around the world. Telefilm also makes recommendations regarding the certification of audiovisual treaty coproductions to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and administers the programs of the Canada Media Fund. Launched in 2012, the Talent Fund raises private donations to principally support emerging talent. Visit and follow us on Twitter at and on Facebook at


Media contact:

Joyce Richards
Advisor, Public Relations – English Market
Telefilm Canada