“Coup d'etat Math” is an animated short film that depicts four stories that speak to the complex equation of each immigrant’s journey. Purposely ambiguous in place and time, each story builds upon the other - like battle raps of struggle - a fight to be born, to survive, to find a place, and to go on in the face of immeasurable loss. Not everything adds up evenly or neatly, and that’s the point. We have immense ability to feel compassion...if we just stop to hear what brings people from A to B..
“Coup d’état Math,” the animated short film written and directed by Sai Selvarajan, will enjoy its world premiere at SXSW 2020. The film depicts four immigrant stories -- a fight to be born, a fight to survive, a fight to find your place, and the fight to maintain. In collaboration with fine artists Amanda Selvarajan and Olivia Saldivar, Selvarajan applied distinct visual language to each narrative and journey, for a truly unique viewing experience.
Selvarajan has developed a body of short film work that speaks to the truth of people that are often misunderstood and underrepresented. “Coup d’état Math” was conceived shortly after the Trump administration announced what became known as a Muslim Ban. In the face of the increasing demonization of immigrants, Selvarajan knew it was a pivotal moment to tell his story and others that help describe the journey people undertake.
“SXSW is one of the biggest film festivals in the world and a world premiere there will significantly help spread our message of tolerance and understanding. My family and I came here as political refugees and had to go through a 10-year process to citizenship that took a lot of time, money and mental strength. I know what it’s like and my heart goes out to anyone trying to cross our borders in search of a better life.”
Just as each immigrants’ story is unique, so too is each narrative in the short film. Watercolor paintings were created by Amanda Selvarajan with whom he collaborated on the short film “Sugarless Tea”; longtime friend Olivia Saldivar created the illustrations and wood cuts. Together, with the help of his colleagues at Dallas-based Lucky Post, where he is an editor, they united four narratives into one, including audio with voices from different cultures that provide both distinctiveness and commonalities. The result demonstrates that the immigrant experience is not singular it is connected by a fundamental desire to live without fear or persecution, to rise from poverty, and find a sense of belonging.
Writer, Director, Editor: Sai was born in Sri-Lanka on a Wednesday night during a coup d'etat. He grew up in Nigeria playing soccer and eating bananas. As a child Sai spent his holidays traveling with his family through Europe, India and Sri-Lanka. His family moved to Dallas when he was nine. It was at this point that he fell in love with Texans and American pop culture. The moving image is the medium in which Sai communicates with the world. He brings a fierce passion for storytelling, coupled with great design acumen, resulting in stylistically intense pieces that linger through their emotional resonance.