The Asian Films Coming to TIFF 2023

From the newest Hayao Miyazaki film to an adaptation of a beloved Canadian novel, these are the movies by Asian filmmakers we’re excited for.

From the newest Hayao Miyazaki film to an adaptation of a beloved Canadian novel, these are the movies by Asian filmmakers we’re excited for.

asian films at tiff 2023

by Rebecca Gao
August 30, 2023

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is back! 

Despite the ongoing SAG-ACTRA strikes that will see many Hollywood actors skipping this year’s fest to protest the poor working conditions, low pay and use of artificial intelligence by the major studios, this year’s fest will still be a must-attend. Not only will some international actors still attend—as will directors and filmmakers—but the 11-day festival will also feature a huge slate of Asian-directed and led films from around the world. 

Here is a non-exhaustive list of movies by Asian filmmakers we’re excited to see at this year’s TIFF. 

1. 100 Yards

(Directed by Xu Haofeng and Xu Junfeng)

This new movie directed by celebrated martial arts genre writer, director and choreographer Xu Haofeng is set in Tianjin, China in the 1920s. The movie is sure to feature Xu’s signature high-energy fight sequences, beautiful movement and playful dialogue.

2. A Normal Family

(Directed by Hur Jin-ho)

Adapted from the bestselling novel The Dinner by Herman Koch, A Normal Family follows two wealthy families who meet to discuss how to handle a violent crime their sons commit. Directed by renowned Korean director Hur Jin-ho, A Normal Family examines the dark side of privilege and family.

3. Concrete Utopia

(Directed by Um Tae-hwa)

Starring Parasite’s Park Seo-joon, Concrete Utopia takes place in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake in Seoul. This epic film follows the survivors as they try to restore order, but it seems as if the earthquake was just the beginning of their troubles. It was also recently announced that Concrete Utopia has been selected as South Korea’s entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 2024 Oscars.

4. Expats

(Directed by Lulu Wang)

Not technically a movie, Expats is a six-episode miniseries by The Farewell’s director Lulu Wang. Expats stars Nicole Kidman and Brian Tee as an American couple living in Hong Kong when a massive typhoon and the political movement reaches a boiling point. TIFF is screening the penultimate, feature-length episode of the mini-series, which focuses on the lives of two Filipina domestic workers who support the expat community.

5. I Am Sirat

(Directed by Deepa Mehta and Sirat Taneja)

This Canadian documentary follows Sirat Taneja, a trans woman who must pretend to be the dutiful son still when she’s at home in New Delhi. A collaboration between Indian Canadian director Deepa Mehta (known for her Elements trilogy Fire, Earth and Water) and Taneja herself, this doc is an intimate portrait of a person.

6. In Flames

(Directed by Zarrar Kahn)

In Flames is the directorial debut by Canadian Pakistani director Zarrar Khan. It follows a medical student in Karachi struggling with the loss of her grandfather and working to support her mother.

7. Monster

(Directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda)

The latest film from acclaimed Japanese auteur Hirokazu Kore-eda Monster follows Minato, a young boy who becomes strangely obsessed with the idea that his brain has been switched with a pig’s after his father’s death.

8. Quiz Lady

(Directed by Jessica Yu)

Quiz Lady stars Sandra Oh and Awkwafina as two polar-opposite sisters forced to pay off their mother’s gambling debts by going on a quiz show. Directed by Jessica Yu, who also directed films like Ping Pong Playa and TV shows like This is Us, Quiz Lady is sure to be a heartwarming comedy.

10. Ru

(Directed by Charles-Olivier Michaud)

Based on the award-winning Canadian novel by Vietnamese Canadian author Kim Thuy, Ru follows a family fleeing Vietnam in 1975, living in a refugee camp in Malaysia and finally settling in Quebec.

11. The Boy and the Heron

(Directed by Hayao Miyazaki)

The latest film by legendary Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki is already being heralded as a masterpiece. The Boy and the Heron takes place during the Second World War, when a young boy survives a family tragedy and then moves to the countryside to work for his father’s factory, making planes for Japan’s military. This is also TIFF’s opening night film and is the first animation and Japanese film to open the fest.

12. The Breaking Ice

(Directed by Anthony Chen)

In this Chinese drama set against the icy mountains of northeast China, three young friends from different walks of life develop a love triangle.

13. The Movie Emperor

(Directed by Hong Tan Xian Sheng and Ning Hao)

The Movie Emperor stars Hong Kong cinema icon Andy Lau, who’s cheekily cast as a popular Hong Kong movie star. The movie follows the star as he aims to seek a new image by playing a village pig farmer in a humble indie film. Director Ning Hao also acts as the film-within-a-film’s director, who works with the star to create the exact type of miserable cinema that foreign film festivals will eat up. Andy Lau will also attend TIFF, receive a Special Tribute Award and participate in an In Conversation event.

14. The Queen of My Dreams

(Directed by Fawzia Mirza)

This Canadian indie film follows queer Muslim grad student Azra (played by The Sex Lives of College Girls’ Amrit Kaur) after her father’s death has her flying back to Pakistan. There, her mother demands that she be the perfect daughter. But in flashbacks, we see the shared love and bond between mother and daughter 30 years ago.

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