The Bigger Picture: Unicorns offers a compelling look into the intricate relationships and vibrant culture of the South Asian “gaysian” community, particularly within the context of their family dynamics. This film delves deep into the rarely explored interactions between queer South Asians and their families, portraying the spectrum of love, hatred, darkness, and light that exists within these relationships. Directors James Krishna Floyd and Sally El Hosaini set out to challenge the prevalent notion that chosen families are the sole significant relationships in the lives of gay South Asians, instead emphasizing the complex clash of beliefs within their families of birth.
South Asian families have, regrettably, received limited attention on the big screen, a disservice to the richness of their relationships and culture. Even scarcer is the representation of the “gaysian” community and the intricacies of their familial bonds. However, Unicorns, which made its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival, aims to rectify this by shedding light on the multifaceted nature of South Asian familial bonds in the context of one’s sexuality.
In an interview at the TIFF media studio, directors James Krishna Floyd and Sally El Hosaini discussed their enchanting and riveting love story, which revolves around two potential partners navigating the divide between their respective cultures as they seek to nurture their connection. The narrative introduces us to Ashiq, portrayed by the talented newcomer Jason Patel, who leads a dual life as the drag queen Aysha at an underground nightclub. Through Ashiq, played by Ben Hardy’s Luke, the audience is introduced to the vibrant gaysian community in London and, more intimately, to his complex relationship with his mother.
When asked about the aspect of the gaysian community that excited them the most, Floyd shared a personal connection to the family dynamics portrayed in the film. He remarked, “I think, in particular, the relationship between the mother and Ashiq is something that is very, very close to me because my mom is Indian, and we have a very interesting kind of complex relationship. We just don’t see that much in film, so for me, I’m very proud of the fact that Asians get to have the complexity of their family relationships put into this film.”
Hosaini echoed this sentiment, highlighting how Unicorns places its focus on born families for gay South Asians, rather than solely on their chosen families, as is often depicted. The aim is to illustrate the clash of beliefs and complexities that can exist within these family units. While the heartwarming queer love story between Luke and Ashiq takes center stage, it’s evident that the directors want their film to serve as a profoundly personal exploration of the realities of family life for individuals like Ashiq, no matter how messy or challenging it may be.
Unicorns marks a return to TIFF for Hosaini, following her previous work on the gripping true story adaptation, The Swimmers, which followed two refugee siblings on their perilous journey from Damascus to asylum abroad and, eventually, to the Rio Olympic Games. Floyd, who not only starred in The Swimmers but also in Hosaini’s 2012 feature debut, My Brother the Devil, embarks on a new chapter as he earns his first writing and directing credits alongside his frequent partner.
As we await more coverage from TIFF 2023, it’s clear that Unicorns is not just a movie but a heartfelt exploration of South Asian family dynamics, offering a fresh perspective on the complexities of love, identity, and acceptance within this vibrant community. Check out the full interview below to delve deeper into the world of this captivating film.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about South Asian Family Dynamics
What is “Unicorns” about?
“Unicorns” is a queer drama film that explores the complex relationships within the South Asian “gaysian” community, particularly focusing on family dynamics. It delves into the rarely seen interactions between queer South Asians and their families, showcasing the spectrum of emotions and experiences within these relationships.
Who are the directors of “Unicorns”?
The film is directed by James Krishna Floyd and Sally El Hosaini.
What is the significance of the film’s portrayal of South Asian families?
“Unicorns” sheds light on the underrepresented topic of South Asian families in cinema, highlighting their rich culture and relationships. It aims to challenge stereotypes and present a nuanced view of South Asian family dynamics, especially within the context of a member’s sexuality.
What is the focus of the film?
While the film features a queer love story between two central characters, it primarily emphasizes the family dynamics of gay South Asians, emphasizing that their born families are just as significant as their chosen families. It explores the clash of beliefs and the complexities within these family units.
Why is “Unicorns” important for the LGBTQ+ community?
The film provides much-needed representation for the “gaysian” community, offering a heartfelt portrayal of their experiences, struggles, and relationships. It seeks to create a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ South Asians in the context of their families.
Where did “Unicorns” premiere?
“Unicorns” made its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in 2023, where it garnered attention and acclaim for its exploration of these important themes.
What is the personal connection of the director, James Krishna Floyd, to the film?
James Krishna Floyd has a personal connection to the family dynamics portrayed in the film, as he shared that his own relationship with his Indian mother has complexities rarely seen in cinema. This personal connection adds depth and authenticity to the film’s portrayal of family relationships.