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1999 Selected for ReelWorld

TORONTO – Khatpanalaya Production, in association with Bagavan Productions, is pleased to announce that the indie drama, 1999, has been officially selected for screening at the 10th Annual ReelWorld Film Festival to be held on April 7 – 11, 2010 in Toronto, Canada.

Inspired by real-life events, independent Canadian filmmaker Lenin M. Sivam’s captivating first feature is a sinuously provocative, edge-of-your-seat story of friendship, betrayal and courage. The film will be screened on Friday, April 9 at 5:00 p.m. and Sunday, April 11 at 2:30 p.m. at Canada Square Cinemas on 2190 Yonge St. (at Eglinton Ave. West).

A fatal gang shooting on a quiet suburban street sets into motion a chain of events over the course of a single day in 1999 that changes the lives of three young men forever. Anpu is an intelligent but isolated underachiever whose strained relationship with his strict disciplinarian father forces him to seek out respect and a sense of belonging in all the wrong places. Kumar is a charismatic gang leader desperate to break free from the cycle of violence and code of honour that hold his crew together for the sake of his brash, younger brother. Far removed from this world is the ambitious university student Ahilan who, having overcome enormous hardship, is on the cusp of realizing his biggest dreams. Bearing the unseen scars of Sri Lanka’s devastating civil war, their worlds collide one fateful Saturday that begins like any other day.

Based on extensive research including interviews with youth workers and reformed gang members, 1999 offers a rare insider’s perspective on the wave of gang violence that shook the Tamil community in Toronto in the 1990s. A sensitive yet honest portrayal, the movie delves into the myriad of challenges facing immigrant Tamil youth as they negotiate a new hyphenated reality in Canada while fighting the bitter memories of Sri Lanka’s brutal war from which many of them escaped. A fast-paced story featuring an all-Toronto cast and crew and shot entirely in the city, the film is a seamlessly interwoven montage of sounds and images of the immigrant experience as seen through the eyes of the main characters.

1999 marks the full feature directorial debut of Lenin M. Sivam. 

"My team and I are deeply honoured by the invitation to share this story at ReelWorld," said Sivam. "This film is a labour of love that was written, directed and produced on a shoe-string budget with an entirely volunteer ensemble of cast and crew who were passionate about telling a story that they wanted to add to the collective memory of our city .”

Sivam was born in Jaffna, Sri Lanka and raised in Toronto where many of his own experiences provide inspiration for his work. He has a number of short films to his credit, including the award-winning A Few Good People (2006), the critically acclaimed Strength (2007), and the thriller Next Door (2008).

1999 has garnered critical acclaim since its Canadian premiere at the Vancouver International Film Festival 2009, where it was selected as one of the festival’s “Top 10 Canadian Films”. It also won the “Best Film Award (Midnight Sun)” at the Oslo Tamil Film Festival 2010 and is now an “Official Selection” of the ReelWorld Film Festival 2010.

Founded by actor Tonya Lee Williams, ReelWorld Film Festival is a five-day festival that screens features, shorts, documentaries, animation, music videos from the Aboriginal, Asian, Black, Latino, Middle Eastern, South Asian and other multi-racial communities. This unique Canadian based film festival truly reflects the racially diverse cultures of the world around us.