Premiering in Toronto next month as part of the 21st annual Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival is a Tamil short that has been making big waves in the international circuit. Unlock written and directed by Sri Lankan born and Paris raised debutant Nirmalan Nadarajah is a 14-minute look at the impact of war on it’s youngest, unsuspecting victims. It stars noted Sri Lankan writer and actor Shobashakthi (also known as Antonythasan Jesuthasan) who rose to worldwide fame with his starring role in the 2015 Cannes award-winner Dheepan by Jacques Audiard.
Although the film is set in the backdrop of Sri Lanka’s 26-year civil war, and ongoing political strife, director Nirmalan stresses that the story and short can be applied to many countries where innocent children are caught in the crossfire of battles they do not understand. The film had its world premiere at the Singapore South Asian International Film Festival at the start of September and then quickly traveled to the Bolton Film Festival in the United Kingdom, where it was received with wide applause and critical acclaim. When inquired about why Nirmalan would choose to direct such a “controversial” subject as his first film he explains that he doesn’t feel as though he has chosen a sensitive subject matter because the events of the film are rooted in realities that are still going on in many places around the world today, and he is merely presenting a look at factual events. Nirmalan, who has been working in the Indian film industry for over a decade as a music composer, will be in attendance for the screening next month and is eagerly looking forward to engaging in discussions about the short with the Tamil community of Toronto.
The film, which features a group of talented first-time child actors, takes audiences into the war-torn interiors of Sri Lanka, where a few young boys are looking for a peaceful place to play their imaginary game of combat, naïve to the ongoing dangers around them. Unlock plays as part of Reel Asian’s “Pulse” programme for youth on Thursday, November 15 at 1 pm in the showcase of shorts titled “The Hand That Feeds”.
Tickets are available now at Reel Asian: Buy here