Skip to main content

Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival: Saturday Night at the Movies

Now in its thirteenth year, the Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival (RA) has come a long way in terms of the diversity of films it is able to offer the Toronto public. Whether its better programming selection or the mix of films that are being made by Pan-Asian filmmakers (or maybe a combination of both), Saturday's films range in moods and genres that could have you spending your afternoon and evening at Innis Town Hall.

AGRARIAN UTOPIA Thai director, Uruphong Raksasad's film about rural farmers tilling the soil in the shadows of multi-nationals and the big money behind modern-day food production, is bound to illuminate even as it creates a pang in our urban hearts about our own dis-involvement with the food that we consume. The beautiful still from the film promises to take us on a visual and emotional journey. Screens at 2:00 PM

WHITE ON RICEThis was my first time seeing a Japanese-American movie where both English and Japanese are spoken. Usually, such films are in English with the odd Japanese word thrown in. This film is about the family loser; you know, the one who can never seem get things right, but who won't take advice from anyone in the family. Well, this family loser is Jimmy (Hiroshi Watanabe), who lives with his sister Aiko (Nae), her husband Tak (Mio Takada) and their son Bob. I'm with the brother-in-law in this film in that I can't stand Jimmy BUT unlike the brother-in-law, who would gladly kill Jimmy, I find myself laughing at his antics. He shares a room with a 10 year-old, loves childish things and is determined to win the heart of a girl (Lynn Chen from Saving Face) who has no interest in him what-so-ever. Teaming with this Japanese comedy (shot in Salt Lake, Utah) is Canadian Mio Adilman's comedic short UNLOCKED about a stolen bike, a young man in recovery (Bobby Del Rio) and his mother (Jean Yoon) who fears her son is doomed to be "an alcoholic bicycle thief". Screens at 5:00 PM

YANG YANGThis story about a biracial young woman (Yang Yang is French/Taiwanese) is a curious choice to screen at 7:30 pm on a Saturday. I would have switched its screening time with WHITE ON RICE, since this film's focus is more youthful and WHITE ON RICE has a broader appeal. There are many Eurasian youth in Toronto who will identify with Yang Yang (Sandrine Pinna), who is a beautiful combination of her parents, but who is exoticized despite her own self-identification as Taiwanese (she doesn't speak French and does not know her father). The romantic complications in the movie (she reluctantly falls into competition with her step-sister over a boy) will appeal more to young women than men, but the issue of identity may be enough to draw them in some young men as well. Screens at 7:30 PM

FISH STORYNot only does Punk live, it rocks in this quirky blend of disaster/action/punk. It's 2012 and the world is going to be destroyed by a giant comet (aren't they always "giant"?). Who comes to the rescue? You'll have to watch this hilarious film to find out. I loved this popcorn movie. Preceding the Japanese, FISH STORY, is a short by Winnipeg director, Leslie Supnet's THE ANIMATED HEAVY METAL PARKING LOT. What a combo, eh? Screens at 10:00 PM

Info: or try getting same day tickets at the door. Innis Town Hall, 2 Sussex Avenue (South of Bloor, off St. George)

Photos some source material courtesy of RA


Popular posts from this blog

donna g's TIFF 08 Coverage: Day 2 aka The Miscasting of Renée Zellweger


Appaloosa wasn't on my "Must See" list of films, simply because my Festival experience is seeing the films without the big stars that may not get distributed. Appaloosa is directed by my love, Ed Harris (who also stars in the film) and has such notable names as Viggo Mortensen and Jeremy Irons. I love Westerns, and an invite to the film had me in line at the elegant Elgin Theatre. While I enjoyed the Marshall (Harris) and his gun-toting, literate sidekick (Mortenssen) battling it out with the bad guy (Irons), I did not enjoy Renée Zellweger in the role of the woman who clings to whatever alpha male is dominating the scene. I kept trying to re-cast her, but it wasn't until I got home that Virginia Madsen's name popped into my head. Virginia would have been perfect and also luminous. Renée may be from Texas, but I wasn't buying her in this one. If you think I'm being harsh everything I've just written was also said by two guys walking behi…

Ross Petty's Sleeping Beauty BFFs: Meet Alexandra Beaton & Taveeta Szymanowicz

Fall/winter theatre favourite Ross Petty Productions is back with another fairy-tale pantomime! This year's treat is Sleeping Beauty-The Deliriously Dreamy Family Musical. The beauty is Kinky Boots star, AJ Bridal and playing her best pals are Alexandra Beaton and Taveeta Szymanowicz of Family Channel's The Next Steps. Taveeta and Alexandra were in rehearsals but took time out to share some insights into their roles.

donna g: Were either of you familiar with pantomime before being cast in Ross Petty's version of Sleeping Beauty?
Taveeta: Yes! I saw Ross's production of Peter Pan when I was in Elementary school. I remember having such a lovely time. I was thus very excited when I was cast in Ross's 2015/16 production of Peter Pan in Wonderland last year. I was thrilled to be cast again this year! 
Alexandra: Of course! Growing up in Toronto, going to the Panto at Christmas  time was a tradition for a lot of my friends. I even saw a few myself.
donna g: You both play Bea…

TIFF16 Day 5: Lion, (re)ASSIGNMENT, Julieta and a monk

Five days into TIFF16 and I'm exhausted. Its a happy tired for most of us who cover the festival, because we love film and we want others to love film too, which is why we share what we've been up to. We want to communicate the passion that is in the air around the central hub at King and John streets, the cinemas, and the stages that show the films and host the conversations.

Yesterday, I began my morning standing in the rush line on Queen Street, around the corner from the Elgin Theatre (called the Visa Screening Room during TIFF) waiting to see if I could get into the public screening of Lion, starring Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman. I was number 78 in the line but I got in and had a bird's eye view of the screen from my lovely single seat next to a column in the balcony.

I rarely cry at the movies, but Lion got me in end. Upon sharing this shocking news on social media some friends of mine quickly let me know that they teared up too. This from a feel good movie where we …