Asians in the Movies 唐人做電影My City 我的城市

A tale of two Canadian Asian film festivals

This year, according to the plan so far, I will volunteer at Reel Asian, Toronto’s Asian film festival and my first experience volunteering at a film festival. At the “interview” where I signed up for a training session and volunteer time slots, I was asked by the volunteer coordinator/director my motivation to volunteer. I’m not a film student and I’m not a student with oodles of free time. Hmm, why do I want to volunteer? I hardly think I want to do it more than once with the time it takes. Oh! Because … of this blog! Because of my long-standing specific interests that are apparent in this blog. That’s what makes me interested in the movies presented at Asian film festivals (AFF’s) and, for some reason, I like to get involved, just once.

From attending a training session and doing the minimum two shifts, I will receive three movie vouchers and there are three screenings that have caught my eye. You never know which films the festival will screen as it is shrouded in some secrecy until the announcement date. The 2012 line-up wasn’t quite what I expected after the creating my on fantasy line-up from movies I heard about all summer screening at South by Southwest (SXSW), San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (SFIAAFF), Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, etc.

Reel Asian films were announced on Tuesday, October 9 while the Vancouver Asian Film Festival (VAFF) 2012 line-up was announced on Wednesday, October 10 since the latter is held the week before. While Reel Asian runs November 6 to 11 in downtown Toronto and November 16 to 17 in Richmond Hill, VAFF is running November 1 to 4.

Vancouver seems to have a higher proportion of the Asian-American films (while Toronto has more Asian and more diversely Asian films). That is, Vancouver has more of the films I heard about from the American festivals and I would have had a hard time deciding between seeing Sunset Stories, Knots (aka 4 Wedding Planners) and White Frog (!!). I think VAFF hit it out of the park getting White Frog. A local film, Lost Lagoon, featuring a Korean ESL student who runs and whose ideal of Vancouver is Lost Lagoon. Some elements of that caught my attention!

Aside from possibly watching whatever film is screened just for the volunteers–White Frog??–these are the three films I’ve earmarked to watch.

Wolf Children. This is 2012 Japanese animated film directed by Mamoru Hosoda might be confused with powerhouse Studio Ghibli and that is a high compliment. I just watched the trailer and sort of wished I hadn’t and just left it at reading one sentence of the Reel Asian description, “Hana, a nineteen-year-old college student, falls in love with a man, only to discover his secret: he is a direct descendent of the Japanese wolf.” The trailer embodied the second sentence of the description, “Nevertheless, they are in love, so they build a life together and bear two children: a son and daughter named Ame (Rain) and Yuki (Snow). Both children inherit lycan powers from their father and are able to vacillate betw””een wolf and human forms.” There is more description but I will resist reading further to save more story for the actual screening. This film, whose trailer make it look like it could be a Japanese animated Christmas film, will be making its Canadian premiere (woohoo), fresh from the super-looking Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF).

Seeking Asian Female. There was a lot of buzz about this film after it screened at SXSW and although I have an idea how it will play out, I still want to watch the documentary focused on what looks like a trainwreck of a relationship and how either there will be a spectacular derailment or the arranged/mail-order relationship will stay the course and make it to the wedding date. This screening is the Toronto premiere having screened recently at Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) and HIFF.

Hard Look. I’ve never watched a series of short films at a film festival and now is as good a time as any with a theme that intrigues me: “From the full frontal stare of an unbatting, mascara-laced eye to the dispassionate gaze of a child who has seen it all, these films consider fallen heroes and arrested dreams. the stirring complexity of these films raises the bar and questions what it means to measure up.” Six shorts from 10 to 30 minutes in length with variations on the theme of going of and missing expectations.

… as is usually the case, the more I looked, the more intrigued I got by other films coming on my radar. First Time, which will kick off Reel Asian, looks really sweet, a very romantic turn for a Chinese film but not what I’m up for now. Architecture 101 from Korea also looks like a touching love story, but also not my current fare.

One thought on “A tale of two Canadian Asian film festivals

  • While the majority of the films at the festival screen at the Sundance Kabuki in Japantown and the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, many films are also screened at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley and at the Camera 12 Downtown Cinemas in San Jose.

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