TORONTO REEL ASIAN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL CELEBRATES ITS LEGACY AND STARTS A NEW CHAPTER WITH 26TH EDITION PROGRAMMING
The award-winning Riceboy Sleeps by Canadian director Anthony Shim opens the Festival with Romeo Candido’s CBC Gem Series Topline closing out the 12 days
Festival runs November 9 to 20, 2022
Public tickets on sale today at reelasian.com
TORONTO – The Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival (Reel Asian), Canada’s premier pan-Asian festival, today announced its full 2022 programming lineup including its Opening and Closing Night Galas. From Canadian filmmaker Anthony Shim, Riceboy Sleeps (this year’s TIFF Platform Prize winner) and closing with Topline, created by this year’s Canadian Spotlight Artist, Romeo Candido, with a live musical accompaniment. This year’s lineup consists of 77 films from regions including Canada, the United States, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, India, Pakistan, Iran, Indonesia, Australia, Cambodia, Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore. Taking place November 9 to 20, 2022, this year’s Festival will welcome audiences back to more in-person programming while continuing to offer digital programming to a wider audience across the country. For the full programming lineup and ticket information visit reelasian.com.
“There has been a creative explosion of Asian talent both on screen and behind the camera this past year, as our collective storytelling gets stronger,” said Deanna Wong, executive director, Reel Asian. “This year, we are incredibly fortunate to be able to share an abundance of outstanding films with our audiences and also expand our offerings to both in person and digital experiences as we continue our commitment to showcasing the best in Asian cinema.”
Below is a list of highlighted Reel Asian programming over the course of the Festival. For the full Festival programme and schedule, please visit: reelasian.com.
Have a cinematic encounter with the stars of today as they take you through their worlds of fiction, and documentary, reflecting on connections with their community, their culture, and imagined worlds captured in feature-length. This year’s Features include:
Riceboy Sleeps, Anthony Shim (Opening Night)
A Canadian drama film, directed by Anthony Shim and released in 2022. Based in part on Shim’s own childhood, the film centres on So-Young, a Korean immigrant single mother raising her teenage son Dong-Hyun after moving to Canada to give him a better life. Winner of the 2022 TIFF Platform prize. Nov 9 at 7PM, Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema. Expected guess include: Anthony Shim (dir), Seung Yoon (actress), Ethan Hwang (actor)
Land of Gold, Nardeep Khurmi (International Premiere)
When truck driver Kiran hears pounding on a shipping container and finds a young Mexican-American girl inside, his already tumultuous life takes a drastic turn as he seeks to reunite her with her family. Nardeep Khurmi won the 2021 Tribeca/AT&T Untold Stories Program to develop this first feature. The film had its world premiere at 2022 Tribeca. Nov 10 at 6PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox. Expected guests include: Simon Taufique (producer)
All That Breathes, Shanauk Sen (Toronto Premiere)
This doc features brothers Saud and Nadeem, who live in a working-class, predominantly Muslim neighbourhood in New Delhi, where they have made it their lives’ work to care for injured black kites falling from the polluted skies of the city. Having grown up with a fascination for the birds and learning early on that caring for them would keep troubles at bay, the brothers are all consumed with a mission that feels deeply as noble as it is overwhelming, with a record number of birds falling from the sky every day. Nov 10 at 8:45 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox
Crossings, Deann Borshay Liem (Canadian Premiere, director and subject present)
In a crucial feminist interrogation of inter-Korean politics and U.S. imperialism, Crossings follows international women activists attempting to cross the 38th parallel, demanding an end to the ongoing Korean War. With incisive style, Deann Borshay Liem documents the Women Cross DMZ movement—including Christine Ahn, Leymah Gbowee, and Gloria Steinem—as they undertake a precarious peacemaking journey. In partnership with OCADU. Nov 10 at 7PM, OCADU Auditorium. Expected guests include: Deann Borshay Liem (dir), Christine Ahn (doc subject)
Noise, Ryūichi Hiroki (Canadian Premiere)
Based on a manga by Tsutsui Tetsuya, Noise is a suspenseful drama full of twists and turns. The great Battle Royale (2000) actor Tatsuya Fujiwara and Matsuyama Kenichi of Blue (2021) reunite after the Death Note films for another synergic collaboration. With the direction of Ryūichi Hiroki, a film and television veteran, Noise delves into more than just unravelling the mystery, through its study of friendship, grudges, and desires. Nov 10 at 8:30 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox
Free Choi Soo Lee, Julie Ha & Eugene Yi
The story of a Korean American death row inmate convicted of a 1973 Chinatown gangland murder in San Francisco, and the activists who led a pan-Asian American movement to free him. Spanning the late 1970s to the early ’80s, this movement would for the first time bring together young, third-generation Asian American activists, many of them politically radical, with older, conservative Korean immigrants. Their unlikely victory, with Lee walking into freedom in 1983 after 10 years in prison, would inspire many young supporters to pursue careers dedicated to social justice. The film will explore the complex legacy of this landmark yet largely forgotten Asian American social movement, and how Lee and his supporters would intimately shape each other’s lives, during his imprisonment and long after his release. Nov 11 at 6:15 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox
Stay the Night, Renuka Jayapalan (Toronto Premiere)
Featuring Andrea Bang (Kim’s Convenience) in the lead role of Renuka Jayapalan’s first feature film that premiered at 2022 SXSW. A failed work opportunity prompts chronically single Grace to pursue a one night stand with a stranger. Turns out he’s an on-the-outs professional athlete in town with a problem of his own. Maybe they can help each other. Nov 11 at 8:30 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox. Expected guests include: Renuka Jayapalan (dir)
Bad Axe, David Siev
Unfolding across the turbulent year of 2020, this personal documentary follows Siev’s family as they struggle to keep their restaurant afloat amid family tensions, neo-Nazis, and the COVID-19 pandemic. At times, the film is an unsettling portrait of racism’s existence in our everyday lives, but it equally insists on being about family and community. In his feature-documentary debut, Siev gives us an intimate account of a family in troubled times, fraught with uncertainty, yet held by a bond as deep as roots go. Nov 11 at 9:00 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox
Some Women, Quen Wong (North American Premiere)
Against the context of a conservative nation-state, Some Women also uses dialogue and gathering to address a fuller spectrum of queer life on the island, threading Wong’s own story with recollections and perspectives from other generations of trans women, through the accompaniment of Sanisa and Lune Loh. These moments in the film archive and celebrate trans and queer folks’ evolving strategies for survival, protest, celebration, and continuance. Through Some Women, Wong practises vulnerability so as to request it from others, and celebrates herself so she can celebrate others. The lens is up close and personal, enmeshed fully in the act of bearing witness. Nov 12 at 2:00 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox
Beyond Extinction: Sinixt Resurgence, Ali Kazimi
From last year’s Canadian Spotlight Artist comes a documentary about three decades of Indigenous struggle by the Sinixt people, whose traditional territories are in Southwest British Columbia and the USA, divided by the border. It weaves together observational footage, contemporary interviews, oral histories, survival stories told by matriarchs, personal as well as public archives, to tell a story never told before. This film traces the journey of matriarchs Marilyn James, Eva Orr and Alvina Lum; Marilyn was appointed the official spokesperson of the Sinixt in 1992. Nov 12 at 2:30 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox. Expected guests: Ali Kazimi (dir)
If From Every Tongue It Drips, Sharlene Bamboat
A film that uses the framework of quantum physics to explore the ways that personal relationships and political movements at once transcend and challenge time, space, identity and location. The film follows the lives of a couple living in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, one of whom writes Rekhti, a form of 19th century, Urdu, queer poetry; the other, her lover, the camera operator. As their personal lives unfold on camera, the lines between rehearsal and reality, location and distance, self and other dissipate and reinforce one another. Nov 12 at 4:45 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox. Expected guests: Sharlene Bamboat (dir)
Unidentified, Jude Chun (Canadian Premiere)
Allegorical, humanistic, and poetic, Unidentified reflects on mankind’s primordial need to seek for answers. Through disparate, cohesive vignettes, Jude Chun’s existential debut uses fundamental science-fiction concepts to examine our inner selves, as only then may we know the things that bind or alienate us from one another. Combining multi-genre elements such as comedy, mystery, and even musical theatre to delve into the depths of soulful connection and the universal theme of social identity, the film also subtly comments on the repercussions of a nation’s traumatic past—and the vision of a transformative future. Nov 12 at 5:45 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox. Expected guests in attendance: Jude Chun (dir)
Therapy Dogs, Ethan Eng (Canadian Premiere)
Ethan and his best friend Justin are students trying to make sense of their high school existence. In what will be the last chapter of their teenage lives and the beginning of adulthood beyond, they decide to make the ultimate senior video in their search for answers. Exploring teenage suburbia in a no-brakes adventure, questions arise whether there’s more to their lives than simply growing up. A headstrong and experimental feature, Therapy Dogs is more than a coming-of-age film, it’s a time capsule for the rebellious. For the ones that pushed the boundaries when deciding to leave their childhood behind. Therapy Dogs had its World Premiere at Slamdance 2022. Nov 12 at 8:00 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox. Expected guests include: Ethan Eng (dir)
Big Fight In Little Chinatown, Karen Cho (Canadian Premiere)
Taking a wide scope, Canadian documentary filmmaker Karen Cho’s Big Fight in Little Chinatown traverses Chinatowns in New York City, Montreal, Vancouver, Toronto, and San Francisco, shining a light on the twin legacies of displacement and resistance that characterize these neighbourhoods. Through interviews with business owners, community groups, and academics, Cho draws a line between the midcentury urban renewal projects that decimated North American Chinatowns and the current development pressures that threaten to drive away residents and organizations — and the community struggles against both. Amid rapidly gentrifying urban landscapes that jeopardize the future of not only Chinatowns but many other urban racialized communities across the continent, Cho offers an incisive look into what it means to decide to stay rooted in a place that, despite all odds, has become a home. Nov 13 at 2:30 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox. Expected guests include: Karen Cho (dir)
An Act of Worship, Nausheen Dadabhoy (Canadian Premiere)
A polyphonic portrait of the last 30 years of Muslim life in America. Told through the lens of Muslims living in the United States, the film offers a counter-narrative of pivotal moments in U.S. history and explores the impact of anti-Muslim rhetoric and policy on young Muslims who came of age after 9/11. Due to their first-hand knowledge and intimate access to the Muslim community, the filmmaking team is able to take charge of the account, which has previously been shaped by outsiders. Nov 13 at 3:00 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox. Expected guests include: Nausheen Dadabhoy
Dream Palace, Ka Sung Moon (International Premiere)
Hye-jeong (Kim Sun-young) leaves a protest group of closely knit families, mourning the victims of an industrial accident, to which she also lost her husband. To move on with her life, she buys a sparkly new apartment with the settlement money, but things go awry when she notices the unit’s construction defects that render her and her son without any usable water. When she attempts to get the problem fixed, an unexpected group stops her in the act: her new neighbours. Beyond being ostracised and called a traitor for accepting the settlement money, Hye-jeong must now stand up against her neighbours, who would do everything in their power to stop her from making the defects publicly known, for fear of their real estate getting devalued. Nov 13 at 5:00 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox
The Grizzlie Truth, Kat Jayme (Centrepiece, Toronto Premiere)
To die-hard fans of NBA franchise, the Vancouver Grizzlies, like filmmaker Kat Jayme, the team’s abrupt move to Memphis in 2001 is much more than a sore spot, it’s an unsolved mystery and possibly a criminal conspiracy. What begins as a superfan’s investigation into her hometown team’s disappearance, becomes a love letter to the worst professional sports franchise in history, and an exploration of the deep roots of fandom. Nov 13 at 7:30 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox Expected guests include: Kat Jayme (dir)
Topline, Romeo Candido(Closing Night)
Tala is a reclusive singer-songwriter whose alter ego is named Illisha. When Tala is discovered by and joins a hitmaking team of topliners, she must secretly follow her passion while dealing with her family’s grief over their mother’s passing. And in the process, Tala just might find her voice. Topline features many of Candido’s hallmarks: dramatic, funny, and touching, with an amazing soundtrack. This web series has something for everyone. Featuring emerging talent from across the Greater Toronto Area, the Topline cast will perform its songs live, for a one-of-a-kind experience. Nov 20 at 7:00 PM, Isabel Bader Theatre
Canadian Spotlight Artist
Challenging norms, paving the road, and telling fresh stories, the Canadian Spotlight Artist program is dedicated to a member of the dynamic and talented Asian Canadian film community. This program celebrates a selected artist through activating their journey, process, and future works.
This year’s Canadian Spotlight Artist is Romeo Candido whose CBC Gem Series Topline will be screened along with live performances at Reel Asian’s Closing Night. Additionally, his horror film Ang Panama: The Inheritance will be screened in advance of the Festival and a selection of Candido’s shorts, music videos and features— including Lolo’s Child, which opened the festival in 2002—will be made available for Reel Asian audiences digitally at reelasian.com.
Candido is a dynamic multi-disciplinary Filipino Canadian award-winning storyteller with experience in narrative and factual storytelling for film, television, advertising, theatre and digital platforms. Candido’s horror film Ang Pamana: The Inheritance played in theatres across the Philippines and won Best Feature at the Winnipeg International Film Festival. His award winning transmedia project Prison Dancer: The Musical, based on the Dancing Inmates of Cebu, is the recipient of the National Creation Fund and is being developed as a stage musical with the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton. Candido is the winner of the Bell Media / WGC diverse screenwriter program and was invited to be a story coordinator for season two of Kim’s Convenience. Candido made his Netflix debut as a writer for both seasons of the sci-fi thriller Another Life. He made his comedy television directing debut as the series director of the CSA nominated comedy Second Jen.
Click here for the full Canadian Spotlight overview.
Great things come in small packages. Reel Asian’s eclectic short film programmes, like your favourite mixtapes, are sure to have something for everyone. Laugh, cry, sing, and shout with these powerful bursts of cinema.
This year’s Shorts programming includes:
MOVING ON: These films do not shy away from difficult and layered stories, distant memories, and buried feelings. Our characters ground, trace, and reconnect pathways toward recognizing the resiliency within oneself through their roots and relations to the places around them.
MUSCLE MEMORY: How do our bodies and environments absorb and hold onto repetitive patterns, habits, and routines? This presentation of shorts exercises the capacity to confront harmful structures, encourage reflexivity, and affirm the embodied knowledge we carry.
S-EXPRESS INDONESIA: Initiated in 2002, S-Express is a short film program exchange. This year, we spotlight Indonesian filmmakers with a programme curated by Fransiska Prihadi of Minikino that hopes to recharge your festival experience.
UNSUNG VOICES 11: Six first-time and emerging filmmakers embarked on a summer-long filmmaking journey online through the Reel Asian Unsung Voices Video Workshop. We’re proud to present their world premieres here. Filmmakers include artist Roda Medhat making their directorial debut after exhibiting at Nuit Blanche 2022.
ENCOUNTERS: Missed chances, unspoken conversations, fated meetings, connections sparked in the most unexpected places: these shorts delve into the weight of all our relations in their fullness and in their absence.
MIDNIGHT SNACK 2.0: Festival favourite Midnight Snack returns for another bite! This time, 2.0 features six talented female directors who cook up tales full of intrigue and awareness, boldly confronting themes that are often left indigestible
NIGHT SHIFTS: From dusk ’til dawn, the night takes centre stage as a mood, setting, tone, and place for our characters’ lives and their environments to be illuminated on screen. Films include Nanitic by Carol Nguyen, winner of TIFF IMDbPro Short Cuts Share Her Journey Award and Same Old by Lloyd Lee Choi, which received honourable mention for TIFF IMDbPro Short Cuts Award for Best Canadian Film.
Click here for a full list of films in each Shorts programme.
Tune into this beloved section online to access free programming for all ages that will spark joy, inspire creativity, and encourage wonder.
This year’s Wee Asian short film lineup includes:
Wherever you are, Wherever I am
Footprints in the Forest
Heart is a Witness
Film Untuk Babeh (Kid Terminator)
Click here for a full list of Wee Asian films and virtual activities.