Even in a city where film festivals, no matter how creatively programmed or smartly executed, are pretty much a dime a dozen, the annual Reel Asian International Film Festival – feting its 15th anniversary this year and its debut in, uh, Richmond Hill as well as Toronto – emerges as essential.
Indeed, this year’s festival tagline is “It’s a big deal.” And it is, judging by the films on offer which were revealed yesterday during a press conference in Yorkville.
Some fast facts help to put the event into perspective:
Number of titles: 60 (16 features, 30 shorts, 4 installations) Number of Canadian titles: 21 Number of premieres: 45 World premieres: 15 North American premieres: 3 Canadian premieres: 14 Toronto premieres: 13 Countries represented: Canada, China, Hong Kong, Japan, France, Germany, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, U.S.A. and Vietnam. Number of film submissions: approximately 400 Festival guests: 32 Industry guests: 27
The lineup of films – showing at various locations including Toronto’s Royal Cinema, the NFB and the Isabel Bader Theatre from November 8 to 19 – is what drives the thing, and brother, there are goodies on offer. Check out some highlights with trailers below:
The opening night gala is Lover’s Discourse, the debut feature film by former University of Toronto student Derek Tsang (co-directed by Jimmy Wan). Here's the official blurb: Lover’s Discourse is an irresistible four-part film about an eclectic group of seemingly unconnected characters in Hong Kong who are fixated on love. Their stories become intertwined as directors Tsang and Wan move through various stages of love, betrayal, and redemption.
The closing night gala is features the Toronto premiere of Buddha Mountain by controversial Chinese director Li Yu (Lost in Beijing 2007). It follows the devastating earthquake that hit Sichuan province in 2008, and was the first film shot in Chengdu that reflected the impact of this catastrophic event.
Other highlights include:
When Comes Love, director Chang Tso-Chi’s layered drama about the complex balance of power in a large Taiwanese family dominated by four women and their many secrets.
Jump Ashin!, inspired by a true story about a young man determined to be a world-class gymnast. Director Lin Yu-hsien’s doc scored the 2011 Taipei Film Festival Audience Award.
Piercing 1, Chinese director Liu Jian’s dark animation about corruption in a modern-day factory town, the current financial crisis and its effect on young people in China.
Saigon Electric, director Stephane Gauger’s USA/Vietnam production chronicling hip-hop dancers from the tough streets of Saigon who befriend a ribbon dancer from the countryside. Together, they must dance for their lives to save the only home they know.
And that really is just the tip of the iceberg. Check out the Reel Asian website for a complete list of films and related events. And be sure to block off your calendar next month.