Sri Lankan born, Dallas-based, retired teacher....and hoops nut. Meet “The Unlikely Fan,” a basketball enthusiast who definitely doesn’t fit any preconceived image. Sai Selvarajan’s multimedia documentary, one of his most personal projects, will enjoy its World Premiere at SXSW 21 (March 16th at 4pm).

Directed by Selvarajan and Jeff Bednarz, “The Unlikely Fan” is an ode to the power of sport to rally and inspire, to see the art of passing, dribbling, and shooting as balletic, and to share that appreciation with your loved ones. Especially when your loved one is the mother of all b-ball fans.

“As a filmmaker you’re always on the hunt for an interesting angle on the world, and sometimes that perspective is not just close to home, it is home” he reflects. “My mom and I talk on the phone every day and two things we always talk about are my kids and what happened in the NBA the previous night. I think just being around her inspired me to tell this story.”

When it came to creating the short, the filmmaker knew it had to be as colorful as the subject. Leaning into his design background, Selvarajan sought to craft something that felt handmade with love. Like most films, this work was a collective effort, with many people coming together, virtually, to make something even as the world - sporting events included - shut down. 

“I’m very grateful for everyone involved and the opportunity to create, even when it felt like the world was just crumbling. I’ll always look back on this film with joy, because of the circumstances in which it was made. But I think you can feel the sense of urgency in the filmmaking, there’s no half stepping by anyone, every move feels bold and confident because they were all in.”

As all in as The Unlikely Fan herself. And that’s saying something.