Saturday, 14 November 2009

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: www.reelasian.com 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

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