Donkeyhead Brings a Story from the South Asian Diaspora to Saskatchewan
If you’re looking to watch a film that combines experiences from the South Asian diaspora, a family drama-comedy, and a creative product that was shot in Regina with a number of Saskatchewan artists in leading positions, then Donkeyhead, the directorial debut of Agam Darshi, might be for you.
Featuring the director in its leading role alongside a Saskatchewan actor (Kim Coates) and production designer (Marian Wihak), the film premiered at the 2021 Mosaic International South Asian Film Festival (MISAFF) in Toronto. It’s a project supported financially by Creative Saskatchewan and the SaskTel Max Equity Fund and is an opportunity that Darshi says fit seamlessly with the goals of the film.
“I wanted to bring voice to a generation of South Asians who were born and/or raised outside India – those who feel as much South Asian as they do Canadian. I see Donkeyhead as a bridge across generations of the South Asian diaspora. We see a film that speaks about life for a brown person living outside of India today, and MISAFF is the audience this film was made for. As any filmmaker I want to connect with the audience, and I really hope Donkeyhead does that.”
In the words of the film’s description on streaming services like Amazon Prime Video, “Mona, a failed writer, carves out a life of isolation while caring for her ailing Sikh father but when he has a debilitating stroke her three successful siblings show up on her doorstep determined to take control of the situation.” It’s a story that has resonated with critics and industry supporters alike.
Donkeyhead was developed and produced by Saskatchewan production company Karma Film. It was acquired by Ava Duvernay’s ARRAY Releasing for a Netflix premiere, followed by Level Film’s Canadian theatrical release in March 2021 and is still available on Netflix in the US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand, and in Canada on Amazon Prime and Superchannel, via providers including Telus, Rogers, Bell, and Shaw, as well as Apple TV, iTunes, the Cineplex Store, and Google Play. Awards-wise (and we’re only picking a few), Darshi was nominated for a Directors Guild of Canada nod, the film garnered two UBCP/Actra award nominations, and went home a winner three times at the 2022 Leo Awards.
But Donkeyhead isn’t Darshi’s only connection to Saskatchewan. A recently wrapped multicultural TV series, Our Big Punabi Family, that Agam Darshi co-created with showrunner Leena Manro, was also filmed in the province in November. This project was partially funded by our Feature Film and Television Production Grant Program. It is expected to produce an economic benefit of $3.5 million for our province.
Fun fact – Donkeyhead also licensed music from Saskatchewan singer Ellen Froese and local band Queen City Kids! There was also a partnership in place with the local Sikh community – Guru Nanak Free Kitchen were a huge help in the casting of performers.
If you’re looking to get financial support for your feature film or TV series, take a look at our guidelines. If you receive the funding then you’ll be following in the footsteps of projects like Summer at Charlotte’s and Shadow of… Both the Feature Film and Television Production Grant and the SaskTel Max Equity Fund are part of a wider assortment of funding programs that include streams dedicated to music video creation and film and television development.