Monday, November 23, 2009

1999 Review by Manuel Jesudasan for Tamil Mirror

“Generation gap” – a very popular phrase in the Tamil community. It denotes an imaginary distance between parents and their children/elders and youth, culturally.

According to the Tamil youths unwillingness on the part of the parents to understand and accept the change in time and cultural environment that influence and impact the today’s youth causes the generation gap.

The elders on the other hand claim to have been brought up in the culture that embodies the norms that was elicited in the poem, “The Charge of the Light Brigade” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson:

“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismay’d?
Not tho’the soldier knew
Someone had blunder’d:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

According to the elders therefore, disobedience on the part of the youth to the thinking and the dictates of theirs causes the generation gap.

Who is responsible for creating the Generation gap, the parents or the children or both?

The debate goes on for generations.

With the exodus in the 1990s of the Tamils from their homeland due to violence perpetrated against them and with the migration in large numbers in western countries, this generation gap further widened.

The realization of the devastating effect of letting the gap widen is brought out in the movie appropriately. 1999 exactly depicts the mentality of the youths who engage in violence in Canada; their heart hardened having witnessed killings of their kith and kin. In the movie, Kumar, as a child, witnessed his parents and siblings being killed by the IPKF in front of his eyes, and he manages to seek refuge in Canada with his little brother whom he loves dearly. He starts up a gang to protect his younger brother. The brothers’ entry into adulthood without guidance from the parents/elders is the outcome of their disastrous life.

On the other hand, Anpu, although did not have the love of his mother, yet nurtured by a loving father, joins Kumar’s gang and gets himself into the troubled world. Admission, finally, by the father that he is responsible for having driven his son away from him and away from the desirable world and into the troubled world is the ultimate message in the movie.

“I have alienated my son by failing to understand his emotional needs. My providing materialistic things did not help my son……..”

The theme is not an unknown one. The incidents highlighted in the movie still continue to torment the community. Yet the community fears to talk about it and thus far is unable to stop it.

Lenin, the director of the movie deserves praise for his courage in selecting a powerful story which needed to be highlighted at the time of confusion the Tamil community is forced to encounter in Canada. At the end of the movie my companion commented, “Won’t those involved in this movie be targeted by the gangs?” I replied, “This movie will soften their hearts and make them open their eyes.”

1999 deserves its accolades:

- an official selection of the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF)
- ranked as one of the top ten Canadian films at VIFF
- Toronto International Film Festival considers it to be one of the top 10 movies out of hundreds of movies produced in Canada in 2008
- Canadian Immigrant magazine ranked 1999 as one of the top 5 movies to watch at VIFF
- First Canadian Tamil movie to reach an international stage.

The characterization of each cast is excellent. Every actor in the movie performed its role to please the audience. It is true that, at times, there were indication of inexperience before the camera of some of the casts. That too brought out the innocence in the youths. The veteran actors, K.S. Balachandran and A. Ketheeswaran were exceptional.

The uniqueness of the movie lies in the fact that there are only two female casts, the restaurant waitress and the young girl over whom Anpu and Akilan are infatuated. Many, however, expressed that the young girl need not have been given a face by the two duet songs, but, rather should have been allowed to the imagination of the audience as to her beauty and charisma just like Maranaai, who is aptly left to the audience to imagine as a ruthless and a hardcore gangster who had lead many murders of Tamil youths. The art of telling a decade long story with the gruesome incidents happening within two days without any flaws is exciting. The pace in which the movie proceeded captivated the audience. I must, however, point out what was observed by my friend, “My main objection is that the film is run by narratives throughout. Usually narrative is used exceptionally in a film but here it is used extensively and defeats the purpose of a visual art.”

The crew has also done its best technologically although lacking slightly in the standard expected of an international film. The blame, however, cannot be attributed as the dearth of talents of the crew, but to the meager finance put into producing the movie.

I had the pleasure of watching the premiere showing of 1999, and I take this opportunity to commend the M.C at the premiere showing. Ms. Suhanya Ketheeswaran was very impressive. Her command of both languages, Tamil and English was excellent. The choice of words, the diction and the presentation were befitting and pleasing. Happy to see hidden talents among out youth finally come public.

Best Gains- must have the Losses’ test-
To constitute them-Gains
- Emily Dickson

It is heartwarming that the sun is finally rising in the horizon of the Tamil Film industry in Canada. Congratulations to the director, producers and the casts and the crew of 1999.

I would like to urge the community to support this movie to encourage the young talents and to promote the Canadian Tamil film industry.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

InnerOli: Move People with Your Big Dream

“Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move the hearts of men.” - Goethe
What’s your dream? Perhaps it is to raise awareness about a particular issue or affect change in a defined community. Move people with your big dream. Don’t settle for anything less.
A dream that has moved me recently is that of a young filmmaker named Lenin M. Sivam. Lenin’s dream is to create a vibrant film industry in Toronto. He wants a platform for aspiring artists to showcase their talent and tell the stories that matter to the many communities that make up this vibrant city. Great films transcend language, culture and time and Lenin’s critically acclaimed film, 1999, is no exception. Made on a shoestring budget and driven by the shared commitment of its volunteer cast and crew to tell a remarkable story, the movie is an eye-opening and provocative depiction of the immigrant experiences of three young Tamil men growing up in Toronto in the late 1990s. Lenin’s film has already moved the hearts of hundreds of movie-goers in Toronto and Vancouver. It was noted as the “future of Canadian filmmaking” and voted as one of the Top 10 Most Popular Canadian Films at the Vancouver International Film Festival. Lenin is himself a refugee who moved to Toronto from war-torn Sri Lanka. He put himself through school, got a university education and used his own money to chase a dream while raising a young family. With no lengthy experience or formal education in filmmaking, he is already being recognized at major festivals. Learn more about his film at and contact me to learn how you can help Lenin make his dream a reality.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 17th, 2009 at 3:50 am and is filed under Daily Reflection, Inspirations, Oli Notes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Neethan Shan: A Tamil Canadian’s Appeal to fellow Tamil Canadians

Dear fellow Tamil Canadians:

I had the opportunity to watch the movie 1999 at Woodside Cinema today. The impact of the movie was so intense that I wanted to share my thoughts immediately with you, my fellow Tamil Canadians. My primary and sole purpose of going there today was to support the young Tamil Canadian artists who had worked hard on this project. But when I finished watching the movie, I couldn’t help but feel so overwhelmed with pride that finally we, Tamil Canadians, have finally made it. I could confidently say that 1999 is a milestone in the growth of Tamil cinema in Canada: the milestone we have been eagerly waiting for, for a while. After many attempts, our community has produced a pioneering masterpiece that will definitely hold a special place in the history of Tamil cinema in Canada.

The acting of the stars was natural. The storyline was real without exaggeration. The screenplay and direction were amazing and creative. The cinematography was excellent. I can go on and on with the praises for the team. Overall, the talents of our community came to the fullest potential in this movie. But it was not just the talents that made me come out of the theatre blown away. There was something more. It was the message. The message(s) in the movie was so powerful that it had the potential to change one’s life. As someone who works with youth and parents on many issues on a daily basis, I can strongly vouch that the message in this movie, illustrated in a very powerful yet subtle manner, is something every youth and parent in our community need to be exposed to. The 1999 team had worked really hard to produce this pioneering work and it is crucial for every one of us to set aside two hours of our time to go watch the movie at Woodside cinema. It helps us as much as it helps the team.

Even if you are not into movies, there is yet another reason, one that might be the most important one. We all realize that our community continues to struggle in communicating our plight effectively to others and on some instances, to our own people. We will surely need cinema as a medium to take our messages to the world. Our struggles will need to come to life through cinema, as cinema is and will continue to be the most powerful medium to shape public opinion. Through cinema, our histories need to be told to many generations to come. Therefore, we will definitely need to build a strong team within our community to make that happen. Lenin and the team involved in this project have the potential as well as the drive to take us there and make it happen! Let us support their growth now so that they can contribute to our community’s growth tomorrow.

Neethan Shanmugarajah
A Fellow Tamil Canadian

1999 opened yesterday for a disappointing showing ...


I am sure you’ve heard about the local Tamil movie "1999" that has been getting a lot of press both in the community and outside. It was selected to open the 2009 Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) and voted as one of the top 10 Canadian movies at the festival. Eye-opening and moving, the movie describes the immigrant experience through the eyes of three young Tamil men in the late 90s. Made with a shoestring budget and the sweat of volunteer cast and crew, the movie tells us about the challenges and opportunities immigrants face. VIFF calls it the future of Canadian film making.

The movie was opened with a series of special screenings yesterday in Toronto. I am disappointed to note that 1999 opened with a very dismal turnout. Both shows last night were virtually empty. If the trend continues today and tomorrow, we will have no choice but to pull the movie out. We planned these special screenings as a response to the numerous requests we had received from our fans in the first place. Despite a high profile opening at the VIFF, a successful premiere in Toronto, outstanding media coverage, excellent support from the business community and very positive feedback from the viewers, the movie hit a huge stumbling block at these screenings. This came as a shock to everyone who worked very hard to complete this movie. I think it is a problem that we need to solve. And we can solve it with your support. May be the expectation for local independent movies are set so low that people do not even bother. This is the sad reality our local film makers face. I think we need to change this reality. You can help by watching the movie, getting your families and friends out to watch the movie and by talking about this movie. The tickets are very affordable at $10. There are shows at 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. tonight and tomorrow at the Woodside Cinemas (1571 Sandhurst Circle, Scarborough).

It is with the support and encouragement of people like you that we can one day build a vibrant film industry and an art community in Toronto, which will serve as a powerful voice for the entire community. Film is a richly complex, far-reaching art form with the power to promote awareness, affect change and, most importantly, get people to critically think about issues. Great films transcend language, culture, time and ideologies.

If you support this movie, more artists will come forward to tell more of our unique stories. The stories that have gone untold for a long time. And this may pave the way to the creation of our own film industry. Now that is worth supporting. Thank you for forwarding this note to your circle of family and friends urging them to support 1999.

Yours truly,

Lenin M. Sivam
Director of 1999