The Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival (Reel Asian) returns for its 20th edition! This year’s programming includes Marquee, Vista, Canadian Spotlight, Pulse, Reel Asian X, Reel Ideas and introduces the inaugural Wee Asian curated especially for kids and in honour of the 20th anniversary, the Cinematic Celebrations commissioned works. The Reel Asian Film Festival begins today November 8 until November 19 in Toronto and Richmond Hill.
In my list of picks for Reel Asian this year, I will focus on Toronto listings.
Friday November 11, 9:00pm
TIFF Bell Lightbox Cinema 2
This documentary follows the lives and careers of four Asian-American rappers as they struggle to break into a hip-hop scene that treats them as outsiders.
Rites of Passage
Sunday November 13, 7:00pm
Isabel Bader Theatre
Working from personal home videos, filmmakers Kobayashi, Mecija, Nakhai, Supnet and Truong use experimental editing techniques, animation and documentary interviews to reflect on their understandings of cultural heritage and personal identities through their experiences with love, fear and womanhood.
This collection of commissioned works will premiere alongside an original live musical score composed by Canadian orchestral pop band Obhijou.
Monday November 14, 8:15pm
TIFF Bell Lightbox Cinema 3
A film ahead of its time, Double Happiness helped pave the way for the appreciation of Asian diaspora films that Reel Asian would go on to showcase to the Canadian public.
*A personal favourite; the film premiered at TIFF in 1994. One of Sandra Oh’s best roles. If you have yet to see this gem, please do so at Reel Asian.
Wednesday November 16, 8:30pm
TIFF Bell Lightbox Cinema 2
Blended with poetry and stories, this debut feature-length animated film by multi award-winning Canadian Spotlight Artist Ann Marie Fleming is a touching voyage of discovery, curiosity, imagination, and bridge-building across cultural and generational divides.
*Another personal favourite from this year’s TIFF lineup. The story, animation, and characters all make Window Horses memorable. I highly recommend this film.
Tuesday November 15, 7:00pm
Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre
This documentary tells an important human story from the perspective of youth who discover their identities through their deadly illnesses and learn how their multiethnic backgrounds threaten their chances of survival.
Other festival events to note include:
Kim’s Convenience: Ushering in a New Era of Asian Canadians on TV
Wednesday November 9, 7:00pm
Glenn Gould Studio
Following the recent debut of the series on CBC, watch a brand new episode and meet the cast and creator behind this comedy as they share their experiences and thoughts on diversity in the television industry.
An unaired episode of Kim’s Convenience will be shown at this event. Director and cast members in attendance.
So You Think You Can Pitch? Live Finale
Sunday November 13, 10:00am
AGO Jackman Hall
The 11th annual Reel Asian So You Think You Can Pitch? Competition goes live as finalists compete for incredible prize packages to finish their short films. A launching pad for emerging Asian Canadian talent, this popular showcase is not to be missed!
In Conversation with Canadian Spotlight Artist: Ann Marie Fleming
Tuesday November 15, 6:00pm
TIFF Bell Lightbox Cinema 6
Ann Marie Fleming has been making work about family, history and memory for almost 25 years. She works in animation, documentary and dramatic genres and in short and feature length formats, and across all platforms. Being mixed race, of Chinese and European heritage, using humour as a tool, she looks at issues of hybridity, diaspora and cross-cultural and inter-generational understanding from a feminist perspective.
These are but a few of the many films and events taking place at Reel Asian this year. Their 20th year lineup is impressive and diverse. Be sure to check out the festival’s full listings for more details.