Every year, the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival showcases films by Asian filmmakers from around the world. Now in its 17th year, the festival, which has previously only included East and Southeast Asian films, is expanding its reach by adding South Asian films into its impressive lineup. And what better way to honour South Asian film than with an opening night gala presentation of Bombay Talkies, a celebration of 100 years of Indian cinema. Running from November 5-16, with 60 films from 14 countries and screenings in both Toronto and Richmond Hill, the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival offers a unique cinematic experience for the city's film lovers.
Here are 5 can't-miss films at the fest.
Director Meera Menon's Farah Goes Bang won the Nora Ephron Prize for Best Female Film at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival — and if a film "captures the spirit and themes" of the late director's work, that should be reason enough to watch it. The coming-of-age tale follows Farah and her two politically active friends on a road trip across the US to win votes for John Kerry's 2004 election campaign. Though the ultimate goal is to change a few Republican hearts and minds, Farah (played by Canadian actress and rising star, Nikohl Boosheri) also hopes to lose her virginity along the way. November 9, 4pm, The Royal (608 College Street)
Film fanatics can get a head start on the Academy Awards race this year by previewing Japan's entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the festival. The latest from director Yuya Ishii, who is known for his quirky leads, follows Majime, a socially awkward, language-loving geek with no real passion outside of his work (which is to put together a new dictionary). But this changes when Majime meets his landlady's daughter, Kaguya. November 14, 7pm, Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre (6 Garamond Court)
The best documentaries introduce you to new places, ideas or people. And The Silk Road of Pop, by Pakistani Canadian director Sameer Farooq, certainly does that. The documentary brings viewers to the remote northwestern Chinese province of Xinjiang, where Uyghur Muslims, a minority group in China, have faced increasing discrimination in recent years. Farooq's documentary explores how young Uyghurs are using music--hip-hop, traditional and punk rock--to explore their cultural identity. November 8, 7pm & midnight, Royal Ontario Museum (100 Queens Park)
Following success at Berlin and Tribeca, The Rocket is making its Toronto premiere at the festival. The film follows Ahlo, a young boy growing up in rural Laos, who is thought to be the bearer of bad luck. Desperate to prove his value to his family and community, Ahlo enters a rocket-building competition in the hopes of taking home the big cash prize. The Rocket will offer impressive performances from its cast of largely untrained actors. In fact, the film's young star, Sitthiphon Disamoe, earned a best actor award at Tribeca. November 10, 5:30pm, The Royal (608 College Street)
Basketball fans — and lovers of a good underdog story — will surely rush to catch this doc at its Toronto premiere. Taiwanese American basketball player Jeremy Lin made headlines in February 2012 after leading his team to a seven-game winning streak and recording at least 20 points, one steal and seven assists in six consecutive games--something sports writers will tell you is pretty rare. But what made his success so remarkable was the fact that Lin was a bench player who had not even been drafted into the NBA. Linsanity documents Lin's rise to superstar status, but also tackles race issues in the world of competitive basketball. November 16, 4:30pm, Richmond Hill Centre for Performing Arts (10268 Yonge Street, Richmond Hill) & November 10, 8pm, The Royal (608 College Street)
Lead photo of The Great Passage
by Regan Reid via blogTO