November 14 to 18 marks the return of the Reel Asian International Film Festival. Last night, the Japan Foundation played host as filmmakers and media types gathered at a press conference to kick off the 11th annual incarnation of the fest. And with more than 70 independent works from all over the world, this year’s Reel Asian Festival will be worth cracking open that golden piggy bank for.
Showcasing work from 13 different countries, this year’s fest offers no shortage of highlights. Nevertheless, a post like this would be remiss if it didn’t point out the showstoppers, so without further adieu…
Finishing the Game from director Justin Lin gets things started as the Opening Night Gala. Starring a rag-tag group of “wannabes and has-beens”—one of whom is named Breeze Loo—as they attempt to stand in for the just-deceased Bruce Lee, the film parodies the production of Lee’s final film, Game of Death. During the filming of Game, Lee died, but it seems that didn’t stop the studio from trying to finish the film without him.
Other particularly noteworthy productions include Mika Ninagawa’s Sakuran, an updated pop-rock take on a classic geisha tale from the 1700s; Canadian Artist Spotlight film The World of Lesley Loksi Chan; Dark Matter, starring Meryl Streep and Liu Ye; plus several cutting edge animated shorts including Down the Rabbit Hole, Power Play and Smile from Genie award-winner Julia Kwan.
But this year it’s about more than just the films! Special events include RAMeN: Reel Asian Music Night, the Lightning Doodle Project at SPIN Gallery, and new Industry Series initiatives like Salons and the Mediatheque, where insiders and delegates can mingle and discuss the finer points of film. Finally, to coincide with the festival, Reel Asian will celebrate the release of its first book, Reel Asian: Asian Canada On Screen from Coach House books. A release party will be held at the Gladstone Hotel on November 7, and admission is free.
This should go without saying, but Torontoist will be providing continuing coverage on this year’s Reel Asian International Film Festival. Stay tuned!
Image courtesy of Reel Asian International Film Festival.