16th Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival – Film Highlights

The Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival celebrates it’s Sweet 16th Nov 6-11 in Toronto and Nov 16-17 in Richmond Hill. For the TL;DR types, check out our video interview with the festival’s Program Director, Aram Siu-Wai Collier.

The Opening Gala

Opening the festival is FIRST TIME. The China/ Hong Kong remake of the Korean film …ing plays out like a feel good whimsical romantic drama about a girl with a debilitating condition and the rocker she falls for. It’s a safe and sweet coming of age film starring hunky Mark Chao and model turned quirky-actress Angelababy. Well performed and beautifully shot, the films twists and turns leaves you thinking about these characters well after the end.

More highlights and reviews after the jump

Must See Highlights
Already at the top of my list of MUST-SEE is the Centerpiece Presentation for PRISON DANCER. The internet meme inspired stage production turned web-series turned Broadway musical makes its return home for a performance/ video event followed by a karaoke party. It would be interesting to see the interactive web series as a complete piece.

The festival screens its first 3D film, A FISH, about a man searching for his wife who has become a shaman. The Korean indie film highlights the use of the 3D platform as a storytelling device engaging the audience rather than shock and awe.

Other Recommended Highlights:

boasts 20 short films, five minutes each by 10 internationally renowned filmmakers and 10 up and coming auteurs commemorating the 100th anniversary and highlighting the uniqueness of Taiwan. The films range from the experimental to glimpses of mundane life to pop culture history to political tensions on the island. There is indeed something for everyone to take away from.

GRACELAND is a nail biting gritty thriller when the daughter of the chauffeur gets mistaken for a politician’s in a botched kidnapping. Well written, performed and shot, it is a heart thumping ride through government corruption and seedy underworld of the Philippines.


This year’s festival boasts a record number of documentaries in its line-up.

Of note and perhaps most cringe-worthy is SEEKING ASIAN FEMALE, where Chinese-American filmmaker Debbie Lum braces for the impact of a ton of preconceived notions hitting her when she follows Steven, a 60 year old twice divorced Californian looking for an Asian wife. It’s a surprisingly eye-opening piece where she inadvertently gets stuck between being a fly on the wall documenting Steven and his new wife from China, Sandy’s relationship and being their marriage counsellor/ translator.

Foodies would enjoy DAL PURI DIASPORA, an informative tale that parallels the evolution of the roti with the roads of slavery from India through the West Indies to Canada. Film goers can also partake in its Rum’n’Roti Lime event and get their fill of roti before the screening. I suggest you don’t go to the screening on an empty stomach.

Other documentaries screening: FRUIT HUNTERS, JAKE SHIMABUKURO: LIFE ON FOUR STRINGS, It May Be That Beauty Has Strengthened Our Resolve: MASAO ADACHI, HOMETOWN BOY, PEOPLE’S PARK, TATSUMI.

Closing Gala
Fans of K-pop would recognize idol girl group Miss A member, Bae Suzy in the Closing Gala screening, ARCHITECTURE 101 where she won for Best Rookie Actress at the Baeksang Awards. Also starring Han Ga In, Uhm Tae-woong and Lee Je-hoon, ARCHITECTURE 101 is a nostalgic drama when a successful and wealthy woman reacquaints and requests an old friend to build her dream house, a promise he made when they were still in college. Well written and well performed, it’s an engaging story about elements we use to build our lives and relationships with people.

For a complete list of films and schedules please visit ReelAsian.com.

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About Xxxtine

The main Canuck here I (sometimes) give a different perspective. I used to be 'read only' but you can actually hear me via POP 88 on 8Asians podcasting sister site Popcast88.com. Always trying to find that right balance between fluff and substance, I tend to focus my interests in discovering different perspectives. Look forward to hearing (and perhaps seeing) things you wouldn't anywhere else. Current vice and embarrassingly obsessed with: Kpop group AFTER SCHOOL
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