Deepa Mehta’s Funny Boy has been ruled out of the International Feature Film Oscar after being submitted by Canada as their entry for the category. According to a statement from Telefilm Canada, the film was disqualified because of the amount of English dialogue it includes.
The Academy Awards rules state that contenders for the International Film award must have more than 50% of its dialogue in a language other than English. Funny Boy is mostly in English, but also includes Tamil and some Sinhalese. According to Telefilm, the film will now be submitted for consideration in the Oscar’s Best Picture and general entry categories.
“We were surprised that the film was not able to compete in the Academy’s International Feature category,” Mehta said. “But then were equally surprised and more than thrilled that Telefilm decided to support the submission of the film for Best Picture and other categories at the Academy Awards.”
Funny Boy, which is based on Shyam Selvadurai’s 1994 novel of the same name, is set in Sri Lanka in the seventies and eighties and follows a young boy discovering his sexual identity during a time of political tensions between the minority Tamils and majority Sinhalese. The Canadian committee picked Mehta’s film as their first choice, but a second, currently unnamed film has also been submitted and is currently “under review by the academy.”
“Every step of the way on the Funny Boy journey has been an important one for myself and the Funny Boy team,” Mehta added. “The message of the book has always been one of resilience and courage. It seems as if the afterlife of the film follows a similar arc. Each time we reached an impasse, we pushed on leading us to something even better than we could have imagined.”