Sunday, 16 November 2008

Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival 2008 Day 3 - Friday November 14, 2008


Day 3 was a day of 3's. It was the third day in the festival and I went to 3 screenings! Want to hear all about it? Check out Reel Asian Vlog for Day 3.

Everybody Else Shorts Presentation

The first screening of the day was such a treat, both of the films shown were very touching in their expression of the immigrant experience. The program included Twelve and Everybody's Children, films that won the National Film Board of Canada's Reel Diversity competitions. I found the films to be a great reminder of the challenges that people face when coming to Canada from a different country. So many times Canada, and specifically Toronto, are known from their multiculturalism but that doesn't mean it can be a quick and easy fit. There is always room for more acceptance, sharing and kindness to those around us. The films were preceded by student PSA shorts that were tender and hilarious, ranging from anti-smoking ads to acceptance. Wonderfully done.

Twelve director Lester Alfonso

Dir: Lester Alfonso
Canada, 2008
43 minutes

Twelve has such an interesting premise and shows a personal and collective journey in a very beautiful way. The film is a collection of interviews and memories of people, including the director himself, who all came to Canada at the tender at of twelve. It is a very brave and honest film that captures truths of the individual lives including the hardships of fitting in as well as advice they would give of how to make it through the transition. The openness and sharing of stories is done from a place of true caring and exploration which transforms the film from straight up documentary style to a collection experience for all, including the audience.

See selections from Q&A with director Lester Alfonso here.

Everybody's Children
Dir: Monika Delmos
Canada, 2008
52 minutes

This film brings to light the issue of unaccompanied minors arriving to Canada seeking asylum. We follow two teens who arrive with little more than the clothes on their back for the period of a year to see what the experience is like. I had no idea that this was something that happened to so many people, and the film touches on the fact that there is no formal system for taking care of them. As the case was, and sound like is with the majority of the unaccompanied minors, is that they have no one here in Canada. It was amazing to see the difference when they had access to or were part of a social community, like The Salvation Army or Matthew House. The film does have an emotional arms length from the people involved, which I can understand but it was a challenge because you really feel so much for teens involved that you want to be a little closer. It's wonderful that it brings to the surface such an important issue.

Matthew House Executive Director Anne Woolger-Bell and Everybody's Children director Monika Delmos

Wonderful Town
Dir: Aditya Assarat
Cast: Anchalee Saisoontorn, Supphasit Kansen, Dul Yaambuning, Sorawit Poolsawat

Quietly paced film set in post tsunami Southern Thailand which is divided between tourist locations and hotels that are continuing on as they can or rebuilding. Many polarities are explored urban to rural, old to new, complex to simple but rarely are they set as a conflict but rather a choice. The film brings a gentle romance that is stemmed in opposites but grows nonetheless. A haunting sense of loss pulls the film just slightly out of emotional range for me, although the setting and acting is quite understated and beautiful to watch.

Disquieting: Late Night Shorts
Aptly named programmed that all and all I have to say freaked me out! The films were all disquieting in their tone and concept as opposed to just the visual depiction. Chilling and uncomfortable, but ultimately unforgettable. Here are reviews on a selection of the shorts.

The Playgrounded
Dir: Anh Minh Truong
Canada, 2007
18 minutes

The lightest of the group, The Playgrounded explores an unexpected nostalgic friendship in a time of utter boredom. Innovative ideas and lively energy contrasts beautifully against the stark setting to give a surreal yet familiar feel to the world it creates.

What You Eat director Jennifer Liao with Reel Asian Online Coordinator Kevin Lim

What You Eat
Dir: Jennifer Liao
Canada, 2008
9 minutes

The story of a father/son relationship where the father is insistent that if you kill something, you have to eat it. This idea prompts for many cringe inducing ideas and moments that had the audience squirming in their seats.

Highlights of the Q&A with director Jennifer Liao:
- the film was based on a short story
- stunts with the animals and casting the young actor were some of the challenges of the film
- it was the winner of Hear Me, See Me, Pitch Me competition in the emerging category at Reel Asian in 2007
- pre-production began in March 08, it was shot in May 08 and post done in July 08

Summer Afternoon

Dir: Ho Wi Ding

Taiwan, 2008
16 minutes

Beautifully shot in black & white this roadside escapade turns from standard third wheel scenario to a dark journey of power and twisted friendship.


The Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival 2008 runs from November 12-16, 2008 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

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