The 2022 Reel Asian Film Festival is back!
This year’s Reel Asian Film Fest marks the 26th edition of Canada’s largest pan-Asian film festival and will take place in-person and online from November 9-20, 2022.
Reel Asian’s 2022 lineup consists of 77 films from regions including Canada, the United States, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, India, Pakistan, Iran, Indonesia, Australia, Cambodia, Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore. This year’s programming includes Features (feature films from master storytellers and first-time feature makers), Canadian Spotlight Artist (dedicated to multi-disciplinary Filipino Canadian storyteller, Romeo Candido), Shorts (short films curated in a playlist based on a unifying threads), and Wee Asian (free programming for all ages).
“There has been a creative explosion of Asian talent both on screen and behind the camera this past year, as our collective storytelling gets stronger,” said Deanna Wong, executive director, Reel Asian. “This year, we are incredibly fortunate to be able to share an abundance of outstanding films with our audiences and also expand our offerings to both in person and digital experiences as we continue our commitment to showcasing the best in Asian cinema.”
Below, seven must-see films to catch at the 2022 Reel Asian Film Festival.
1. Riceboy Sleeps by Anthony Shim (Opening Night Presentation)
Riceboy Sleeps is described as a “deeply personal second feature” from writer-director-actor Anthony Shim that speaks to the importance of belonging over fitting in.
Set in the 1990s, it tells the story of South Korean immigrant and single mother So-young (Seung-yoon Choi) looking to make a fresh start in a West Coast Canadian suburb with her son, Dong-hyun (Ethan Hwang). Despite encountering the challenges of immigrant life at every step, they try their best to fit in at school and at work. As the angstful Dong-hyun grows up and grows apart from his mother, events propel them to deal with unspoken truths from the past. The film recently screened at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival where it won the Platform Prize and it also was the winner of the Audience Award at the 2022 Busan Film Festival.
Screening details: November 9, 2022, 7pm at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema.
2. The Grizzlie Truth by Kat Jayme (Centrepiece Presentation)
This documentary by Grizzlies superfan Kat Jayme investigates the “true sports crime”: Why did the Grizzlies abandon Vancouver, and who is responsible for this treacherous act?
ICYDK, the Vancouver Grizzlies were a Canadian professional basketball team based in Vancouver that was established in 1995, along with the Toronto Raptors, as part of the NBA’s expansion into Canada. Following the 2000–01 season, the team relocated to Memphis, Tennessee, United States and was renamed the Memphis Grizzlies.
Framed as a tongue-in-cheek, detective-style mystery, The Grizzlie Truth sees Jayme chase leads, discover clues and surprisingly confront a long-held villain.
According to Reel Asian, the film speaks to the heart of an inferiority complex imbued in Vancouverites and Canadians.
Screening details: November 13, 2022, 7:30pm at TIFF Bell Lightbox 2. This feature film will also be shown as an online screening from November 14-17.
3. Therapy Dogs by Ethan Eng (Feature)
Ethan Eng’s debut feature film Therapy Dogs is an introspective look at his coming-of-age in senior year at his high school in Mississauga. Filmed during his last days of high school in 2019, right before the pandemic, the film was shot by Ethan and his friend Justin under the pretense of being a yearbook project, recording pivotal moments and character portraits during this tumultuous stage of adolescence.
Screening details: November 12, 2022, 8pm at TIFF Bell Lightbox 3. This feature film will also be shown as an online screening from November 14–20.
4. Stay the Night by Renuka Jeyapalan (Feature)
After getting passed up for a major promotion at work, reserved, late-bloomer Grace (played by Kim’s Convenience star Angela Bang) attempts to break out of her shell by pursuing a one-night stand at the club. She encounters Carter Stone, an NHL player at a crossroads and after a disastrous attempt at a hookup, the two walk Toronto’s wintry streets, wandering from bar to skating rink to office, slowly but surely finding common ground as the night progresses.
Stay the Night is the feature debut of veteran Canadian TV writer and director Renuka Jeyapalan and showcases delightfully familiar locals-only Toronto hangouts, while asking us to lose ourselves in a version of the city where a brief encounter doesn’t have to mean a transaction.
Screening details: November 11, 2022, 8:30pm at TIFF Bell Lightbox 3. This feature film will also be shown as an online screening from November 14–17.
5. Night Shifts (Shorts Programme)
Night Shifts features five short films centered around nighttime. This showcase features Nanitic by Carol Nguyen (winner of the 2022 TIFF IMDbPro Short Cuts Share Her Journey Award), and Canadian filmmaker Lloyd Lee Choi’s Same Old, which was shown at Cannes.
Screening details: November 13, 2022, 5:30pm at TIFF Bell Lightbox 4. This shorts programme will also be shown as an online screening from November 14–20. Purchase the shorts VOD pass to watch this programme online and all other shorts in selection at the festival.
6. Midnight Snack 2.0 (Shorts Programme)
Festival favourite Midnight Snack returns for another bite! This shorts programme subverts food themes commonly found in Asian stories. This year’s edition features six talented female directors who cook up tales full of intrigue and awareness, boldly confronting themes that are often left indigestible. Canadian filmmakers include Andrea Nirmala Widjajanto with the film Shallots and Garlic, and Christianne Cruz with the film Aftertaste.
Screening details: November 12, 2022, 10:15pm at Tiff Bell Lightbox 3. This shorts programme will also be shown as an online screening from November 14–20. Purchase the shorts VOD pass to watch this programme online and all other shorts in selection at the festival.
7. Topline by Romeo Candido (Closing Night Presentation, Canadian Spotlight)
Romeo Candido’s latest musical foray Topline takes us into the world of topliners: the people who write the lyrics, melodies, and hooks for the industry’s biggest stars.
Tala is a reclusive singer-songwriter whose alter ego is named Illisha. When Tala is discovered by and joins a hit-making team of topliners, she must secretly follow her passion while dealing with her family’s grief over their mother’s passing. And in the process, Tala just might find her voice.
Topline features many of Candido’s hallmarks: dramatic, funny, and touching, with an amazing soundtrack. This web series has something for everyone. Featuring emerging talent from across the Greater Toronto Area, the Topline cast will perform its songs live, for a one-of-a-kind experience.
Screening details: November 20, 2022, 7-9pm at Isabel Bader Theatre. This screening is part of the Canadian Spotlight: Romeo Candido programme.
Bonus: RA:X Puncta Art Exhibit
RA:X Puncta Art Exhibit is a collaborative exhibition by Jasmine Gui (special projects programmer, RA) & keiko Hart (co-curator). It aims to present a plurality of punctum moments (as defined by Roland Barthes) that disturb and prick at diasporic Asian narratives and slip beyond an easy legibility of “Asianness”.
The five works presented in this exhibition are honest yet uneasy, confrontational, and tender provocations that push in creatively personal ways, against and through the pressures and questions of their socio-political moments.
Located at the Bachir/Yerex Presentation Space at 401 Richmond Street West, this exhibition makes a great pre or post-screening stop.
Opening Hours: November 10-11, 1– 6pm; November 12-20, 11am-6pm.