12th Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival

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Toronto Reel Asian film festival

Three weeks ago (Nov 13-16), I was in Toronto to attend the 12th Reel Asian Film Festival held at various locations in downtown Toronto, but notably at University of Toronto’s Innis College. I was expecting something as big as Fantasia, with 100+ movies over 20 days, but of course it’s only five days. Even with these pumped-up expectations, I wasn’t disappointed by the movies that I saw.

Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival poster 2008

On the first night, I went to see Confessions of a Salesman, a must-see if you were interested in Chinese-Canadianess. It’s a “fictionalized autobiography” that evoke the struggles of growing up in Canada while being of Chinese origin and all the “baggage” it involves. Amusing, although it is definitely indie in format.

The other movie that I saw that night was the excellent Hansel and Gretel, a Korean flick that I wasn’t planning to see originally. It’s one of those movies that are terrifying just because it starts so nicely and cleanly, with beautiful care made on details of the storybook house where the plot slowly reveals itself.

Super Cop World at the Toronto Reel Asian Festival

At the window of Innis Town Hall, there was this video montage (see close-up) made of footage from Jacky Chan movies and captures of the first Mario Bros. It’s called Super Cop World, by Eric Siu (Hong Kong, 2005).

Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival

On Friday, I saw a Thai movie called Wonderful Town that I should have well not paid 10$ for. Maybe director Aditya Assarat has won lotsa prizes before, and maybe the movie was beautiful and melancholic (the story happens in a town devastated by the 2004 tsunami), but the love story is totally one that is drama-less, just some really straightforward and almost insignificant one (unworthy of a film). November is not a good month for watching such movies.

Toronto Reel Asian film festival audience

Saturday night was a lot more interesting. I went to see Flower in the Pocket: a pretty weird movie on a dad and his two sons, living separate lives in a small town in Malaysia.

Then, the feature of the night: West 32nd. Sold-out at first, the box office managers “found” some tickets on the day before, just when I was making my attempt to buy a few for myself and friends. Director Michael Kang answered questions, and revealed that he was working on an adaptation of Gene Yang’s American Born Chinese.

Finally, I stayed behind to see late-night shorts assembled under the title of “Confessional”. One was Nine Confessions, a Made in Hong Kong political piece on hostage taking in the war in Iraq, co-sponsored by Videotage and made by a collaborative effort called Project Big Bang.

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