Thursday, 29 October 2009

Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival: Sense of Wonder

Images from films, FISH in BARREL by Randall Okita and FOUND by Paramita Nath. Both films are part of the Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival's SENSE OF WONDER short programme which screens on Friday, November 13th, 6:15 pm at Innes Town Hall on the U of T Campus.

One of the things I love about doing TmTm is the fact that I get to directly question the creators of various works of art. On Saturday, Oct. 24th, I had the chance to ask director, Randall Okita about his work Fish in Barrel, a short film that I had seen at TIFF '09 and that many people will get an opportunity to see at Reel Asian. I had screened Fish in Barrel several times at home, and found it interesting and puzzling at the same time. The film is dark in lighting and in theme, so asking Randall, the "what were you thinking" questions was something I was looking forward to. Well, turns out, that like dance or abstract paintings, Randall's work is all about communicating emotions rather than a putting forth a linear plot. He painstakingly worked with his crew and cast (including, Jet's brother, Li a Raven playing a crow) to get the tone and the images to match his original vision. So, I did get it. What I also get from his film is something new every time I watch it, and that's what great art is about.

Sharing studio time with Randall was poet, Souvankham Thammavongsa, the author of Small Arguments and Found. It is her book of poety that director, Paramita Nath, used in her screenplay of Found. Randall was very interested in asking Souvankham about her experience as the subject of the film (which is based on her life from refugee camp baby to Toronto resident) and acting as herself. He and I both learned about Souvankham's difficulty with doing something as rudimentary as walking on screen, how that basic act made her self-conscious and how uncomfortable she felt seeing and hearing herself on screen (she narrates the film). She also shared with us her extreme pleasure at Paramita's success in transforming the art of poetry into the art of film.

Several of the directors (including Randall and poet Souvankham) will be in attendance at the SENSE OF WONDER screening. The programme which celebrates the best in Canadian short films will also feature works by Leslie Supnet (A Small Misunderstanding), Jong Wook Choi (Irma Vep), Yung Chang (Ali Shan), Lydia Fu (Permute), Victoria Cheong (Nocturne for Fireflies), and a collaboration with the directing trio of Richard Fung, John Greyson and Ali Kazimi (Rex Vs Singh).

Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival (November 11 -15)
Tickets are on sale now.

Photo Credit: photos courtesy of Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival.
Above left: Randall used various camera speeds and pecise lighting to deliver shots of flowing water in Fish in Barrel. Above right: an image of the book that inspired both the book and the film, Found.

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