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Film based on Selvadurai’s Funny Boy Canada’s Oscar entry

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Deepa Mehta’s film based on Sri Lankan born Canadian author Shyam Selvadurai’s novel, Funny Boy, has been selected as Canada’s Oscar entry for best international film, according to foreign media reports.

 A report published by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation said Mehta’s film Funny Boy will represent Canada at the 93rd Academy Awards as the submission for the best international film.

Mehta, whose previous film Water competed for best foreign language film — under the category’s previous name — in 2007, said she could barely believe it when she heard about the nomination. 

At the same time, the film being selected and supported by Telefilm made her proud to be a Canadian. 

“It’s about Sri Lankans. It’s about the civil war. It’s about gays coming of age,” Mehta said of Funny Boy.

“We are Canadians, and what does it mean to be a Canadian? A Canadian means to be whatever you are. And that’s the biggest gift that Canada has given me.”

Funny Boy, which is based on the novel of the same name by Shyam Selvadurai, follows the story of a boy named Arjie, who is growing up gay in Sri Lanka during the Tamil-Sinhalese conflict of the 1970s and 1980s. It was filmed on location in Sri Lanka; Mehta co-wrote the script with Selvadurai.

Mehta said that producing the film during a pandemic was a particular challenge, requiring them to “cut corners” at times. 

“I feel we’ve been challenged, and we need it.” Mehta said at a Thursday press conference. “It’s the indomitable spirit of what makes us live.”

The film, which is mostly in Tamil with some English, was acquired by Ava DuVernay’s distribution company Array earlier this month. It is scheduled for wide release on CBC TV and CBC Gem on Dec. 4., and will also receive a theatrical release in Canada before moving to Netflix in the U.S., U.K., New Zealand and Australia on Dec. 10.

Last year, Canada’s submission for best international feature film went to Antigone, directed by Montreal’s Sophie Deraspe.

The 93rd Academy Awards are currently set to take place on April 25, 2021. While they were initially set to take place on Feb. 28, they were moved back due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The eligibility period was also pushed back by two months — extending the cutoff from Dec.31, 2020 to Feb 28, 2021. The full list of Oscar nominations will be announced on March 15.

First published by McClelland and Stewart in September 1994, the novel won the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction and the Books in Canada First Novel Award.

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PSC action could cripple health services, warns GMOA Secretary

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There were vacancies for 89 specialist doctors in government teaching hospitals due to certain actions taken by the Public Service Commission (PSC), the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) said yesterday.

GMOA secretary Dr. Senal Fernando yesterday told The Island those vacancies had the potential to cripple the state health service, as the service was stressed due to COVID-19.

Dr. Fernando said: “Specialist doctors are appointed and transfered according to procedures established by the Health Service Minute. The Ministry of Health is responsible for the transfers and the PSC should oversee the transfering process to ensure that they are made in a proper manner.”

“The PSC has ordered the appointment of a committee to look into the matter but there is no mention of such a committee in the Health Service Minute. Instead of following the process, the PSC has tried to intervene in the process and 89 posts remain vacant during the time of COVID-19,” he said.

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Hizbullah denies links with Zahran

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But signed agreement for Zahran’s help in 2015 GE

By Rathindra Kuruwita

Former Governor of the Eastern Province, M. L. A. M. Hizbullah on Monday night told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) probing Easter Sunday attacks, that he had not had any links to National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) leader Zahran Hashim. The NTJ members had assaulted his supporters at Kattankudy in March 2017, he said.

Hizbullah said so when the Commissioners asked him about his links with Zahran.

Hizbullah was also asked about billions of rupees he had received from foreign organisations since 2016. Earlier in the day, it was revealed that close to Rs. 4 billion had been deposited by foreign individuals and institutions in two accounts Hizbullah operated at the Bank of Ceylon Colpetty Branch from 2016 to 2019.

The witness said the Sri Lanka Hira Foundation, a social service institution run by him, had received money from foreign countries after March 2016.

“Ali Abdullah al-Juffali of Saudi Arabia gave Rs. 308 million and Siddique and Diana Osmond of London gave Rs. 5.5 million,” he said.

Hizbullah added that he knew al-Juffali and some other Saudi philanthropists. Al Juffali family was one of the richest Saudis with an estimated worth USD 19.8 billion, he said.

Then, a video of a discussion Zahran had with Sibli Farooq of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress was played at the PCoI.

The video showed Zahran and Farooq talking about a sum of one million riyals that Hizbullah had allegedly received from Saudi Arabia. In the video, Zahran says that he had no problem with Hizbullah receiving money from Saudi Arabia.

In response, Hizbullah said that by the 2015 Presidential election, Farooq and Zahran had been against him. A member of the Commission then asked why Hizbullah had entered into an agreement with Zahran during an election if he had acted against him.

Hizbullah said Zahran had told, on social media, that he would support politicians who agreed to some of his proposals.” All the parties joined him. I also went along,” he said. Earlier, it was revealed that representatives for the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC,) Democratic Party, UNP, UPFA and National Front for Good Governance (NFGG) had signed agreements with Zahran in exchange for the support of NTJ in 2015.

Hizbullah was also questioned on the Aliyar clash between NTJ and Sunnath Wal Jamaat, a group that supported Hizbullah, on 10 March, 2017.

“Did you ask Zahran to surrender to the court through his mother?” a member of the Commission questioned.

“I made no such comment. I do not know if anyone in my party did so,” he said.

The Commissioners also asked Hizbullah about growing date palms in the Kattankudy area and placing Arabic billboards.

The witness replied that he had grown date palms because of the high temperatures in the area. Nameplates with Arabic letters had been put up to attract Arabic students as they were largely visiting the area, he said.

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CA annuls summons issued on President

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The Court of Appeal yesterday annulled the summons issued on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa over the disappearance of two persons in Jaffna in 2011.

Lalith Kumar Weeraraj and Kugan Muruganathan went missing in 2011. Last year, Jaffna Magistrate’s Court issued summons on Rajapaksa over a habeas corpus petition filed by the relatives of the two missing activists. They had named Rajapaksa one of the respondents since he was the Defence Secretary at the time of the disappearances.

Earlier, Rajapaksa had submitted a writ application stating that he found it difficult to appear before the Jaffna Magistrate’s Court due to security reasons. The Court of Appeal issued an injunction preventing Rajapaksa being summoned by the Magistrate.

President of the Court of Appeal A. H. M. D. Nawaz, declaring their decision, said that a Magistrate’s Court could only issue summons over a specific reason. However the Jaffna Magistrate’s Court had issued the summons based on a motion of a lawyer and that there was no legal basis for the summons. Thus, the Court of Appeal issued a writ notification declaring the summons issued by the Jaffna Magistrate’s Court void.

 

 

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