Toronto Film School graduate Ali Kazmi’s latest film, Funny Boy, will represent Canada in the race for Best International Feature Film at the 93rd Academy Awards.
Co-written and directed by renowned Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta, the film explores the awakening of sexual identity by a young boy named Arjie in 1970s and 80s Sri Lanka.
Kazmi, who graduated from Toronto Film School’s Film Production program in 2009, plays the title character’s disapproving father in the film, which takes place as political tensions escalate to a boiling point between the minority Tamils and the majority Sinhalese.
“Coming of age, family, politics, sexuality, love in strange times, and circumstances set in the ’70s and ’80s, but even more relevant today,” the Pakistani-born, Toronto-based actor said of Funny Boy, which is based on the critically acclaimed novel of the same name by Shyam Selvadurai.
“Its relevancy transcends time, race, religion and cultures. It puts up a mirror to reflect the human condition.”
Funny Boy was selected by Telefilm Canada from amongst 11 Canadian films submitted for consideration to represent the country at the next Oscars ceremony, which is slated to take place on April 25, 2021.
If ultimately selected as an official nominee for Best International Feature Film on March 15, 2021, Funny Boy would mark Mehta’s second film to garner an Academy Award nomination in the esteemed category.
“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.
Funny Boy also marks the second time Kazmi has acted in a Mehta film. The pair’s first collaboration, Beeba Boys, was nominated for Best Canadian Feature Film at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival.
Kazmi sat down with Toronto Film School back in June for a livestreamed episode of our podcast, Arts Anatomy. The nearly two-hour-long conversation with fellow alumnus Mélie B. Rondeau covered the highlights of Kazmi’s career thus far – from what inspired him to pursue his passion for acting, to his time at Toronto Film School, to how he established himself as a versatile and sought-after multi-lingual actor here in Canada, the United States and India, as well as back home in Pakistan.
Funny Boy was picked up by Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY Releasing back in October. It will be available to stream on-demand in Canada via CBC Gem following its CBC TV broadcast on Dec. 4, and will premiere on Netflix outside of Canada on Thursday, Dec. 10.
In a message announcing that news on his Facebook page, Kazmi urged everyone to tune in.
“It takes a lot of hard work, and literal blood, sweat and tears to bring a film to life, and I’m so proud to be a part of this one’s journey,” Kazmi said.
“There’s nothing funny about Funny Boy. I can’t wait for you all to experience it Dec. 10, 2020. Sit tight, the ride has just begun!”