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Oct 11, 2016

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Festival announces full programming lineup including TSUKIJI WONDERLAND, SEOUL STATION, WINDOW HORSES, APOCALYPSE CHILD, THE BACCHUS LADY, among others

Public tickets on sale today at www.reelasian.com

(Toronto – October 11, 2016) The Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival (Reel Asian), presented by National Bank, announced today its complete programming lineup for this year’s 20th edition.Returning programming from this year’s festival includes Marquee, Vista, Canadian Spotlight, Pulse, Reel Asian X, Reel Ideas and introduces the inaugural Wee Asian curated especially for kidsand in honour of the 20th anniversary, the Cinematic Celebrations commissioned works.The Reel Asian Film Festival takes place November 8 to November 19, 2016 in Toronto and Richmond Hill.  

“We have curated a special programming line up that our audiences can look forward to experiencing,” said Louanne Chan, Executive Director of Reel Asian. “The films and innovative experiences we are offering perfectly commemorate our 20th anniversary by welcoming back filmmakers who have been with us over the years, continuing to tell multigenerational stories from all over the world and looking to the future by introducing new creative voices from the Asian community.”

Regions represented at this year’s festival include China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, the United States and Canada. This year, the festival will expand into the TIFF Bell Lightbox to screen a selection of films.


Award-winning masters of the moving image pull out all the stops and take to the red carpet with stories that will inspire and ignite audiences. The Marquee lineup includes TSUKIJI WONDERLAND, a fascinating documentary about the Tokyo Tsukiji market, the Mecca of all fish markets; BAD RAP follows the lives and careers of four Asian-American rappers as they struggle to break into a hip-hop scene that treats them as outsiders; TYRUS is an intimate look at the life of Tyrus Wong, a hugely influential Chinese artist who defied racial barriers to become a sketch artist at Disney, influencing the look and feel of 1942’s BAMBI; featuring a star-studded Korean cast, THE LAST PRINCESS is a fictionalized tale of Princess Deokhye, the last princess of Korea’s Joseon Dynasty; a horrifying prequel to Yeon Sang-ho’s wildly successful TRAIN TO BUSAN, SEOUL STATION tells the animated story of how the zombie apocalypse came to be; Reel Asian revisits Mina Shum’s DOUBLE HAPPINESS, a film that helped paved the way for Asian diaspora films and this year’s Canadian Spotlight Artist honour will be presented to festival veteran Ann Marie Fleming with her captivating new animated drama, WINDOW HORSES.

Click here for film and synopses details.


Reel Asian is proud to be hosted by the state-of-the-art Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts for two screenings exclusively for Richmond Hill audiences. Opening the Richmond Hill Festival is WEEDS ON FIRE, the touching true story of Hong Kong’s first youth league baseball team and the Closing Gala will be the North American Premiere of the Taiwanese romantic comedy, MY EGG BOY.

Click here for film and synopses details.


The Vista program will introduce audiences to Asian cinema’s trailblazing filmmakers who have transcended cultures, languages and genres to redefine what it is to be Asian. The line up includes the North American premiere of MY DAD AND MR. ITO, a moving dramedy from Japanese filmmaker Yuki Tanada; Taiwan’s Chen Yu-jie won the award for Best Director at the Shanghai International Film Festival for his film LOST DAUGHTER which will also have its Canadian Premiere at Reel Asian; REACH FOR THE SKY examines the insurmountable pressure Korean high school students face when taking the Suneung, a standardized test that determines a student’s chance for admission into university; Mario Cornejo’s evocative film APOCALYPSE CHILD expands on the rumours of the surfboard left behind by the crew of APOCALYPSE NOW and beautifully weaves in the fictional story of the film’s protagonist “Ford” and his life in Baler, Philippines; MIXED MATCH is a documentary from award-winning filmmaker Jeff Chiba Stearns that explores the need to find bone marrow and cord blood donors for patients of mixed ethnicity; an official selection at Berlinale 2016, THE BACCHUS LADY is a remarkable character study of the life of an aging Korean prostitute who is faced with new, unusual challenges presented by her clients; a former Reel Asian Canadian Spotlight Artist, Randall Okita makes his feature film debut this year with a gritty portrait of youth in THE LOCKPICKER.

Click here for film and synopses details.


Great things come in small packages. The eclectic short film programs, like favourite mix tapes are sure to have something for everyone. Laugh, cry, sing and shout with these powerful bursts of cinema.

Click here for a full list of Pulse films.


Reel Asian X is the variable. The unknown quantity that escapes the constants of screen, time and space. Everything that is not everything else is X. This year’s Reel Asian X program kicks off with the Centrepiece Gala Presentation, RITES OF PASSAGE. This unique presentation commissioned by Reel Asian, is a collaborative film and live music event. Five Asian Canadian, female filmmakers bring to life personal home videos that reflect on pivotal moments of their own cultural upbringing. Canadian indie pop band Ohbijou will reunite for the first time since 2013 to perform the musical score for each film. The program will also present NARI, an experimental short film from Gingger Shankar that will be followed by a multimedia performance with live vocals, Indian Percussion, and Gingger’s unique double violin set to an entrancing blend of hip-hop, high energy solos and electronica infused with Gingger’s mother’s never-before-heard recordings rooted in the Hindustani vocal tradition.

Click here for more information on this year’s Reel Asian X programming.


Reel Asian audiences can immerse themselves in the community where creative and industry minds come together. This is where the festival celebrates its beginnings and looks to what’s ahead for Asian media in Canada and around the world. This year, Reel Ideas will give audiences a chance to meet the cast and crew of CBC’s new, highly-anticipated comedy, Kim’s Convenience; get an in depth look at the career of Canadian Spotlight Artist Ann Marie Fleming in an ‘In Conversation’ moderated by NFB producer Michael Fukushima; meet today’s industry players in Asians in the Arts panel; attend a Closing Keynote by Reel Asian festival founder Anita Leeand more at the Reel Ideas Industry Series Panels

Click here for a full list and more information on this year’s Reel Ideas panels.


To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the festival, Reel Asian has commissioned four internationally renowned filmmakers to create a short film that celebrates what “twenty” means to them. One of each of their shorts will be shown before selected programs during the festival. The films come from Japanese filmmaker Koji Yamamura, one of the most successful auteur animation filmmakers known for his Oscar-nominated 2003 film MT. HEAD; a man of many talents including his work as a DJ, music producer, graphic novelist and animation artist, Canada’s own, Kid Koala; Mary Stephen, who made a name for herself as an editor for prominent French New Wave director Éric Rohmer; and famed Chinese documentary filmmaker Yung Chang who is best known for his 2007 award-winning film UP THE YANGTZE.

Click here for more information on Cinematic Celebrations.


For the first time, Reel Asian will present the Wee Asian program. On Saturday, November 12 and Sunday, November 13, kids can explore the art of moviemaking and fuel their creativity through films, crafts, and dance at AGO’s Weston Family Learning Centre.

Click here for a full list of Wee Asian activities.

Reel Asian celebrates 20 years of showcasing the best in contemporary Asian cinema, providing a public forum for Asian media artists and inciting the growing appreciation for Asian cinema in Canada. Tickets go on sale starting October 11 on reelasian.com.

The Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival gratefully acknowledges the support of Presenting Sponsor National Bank, and government funders the Department of Canadian Heritage, Canada Council for the Arts, Telefilm, Ontario Trillium Foundation, Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund, a program of the Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, Ontario Media Development Corporation, Ontario Arts Council, and the Toronto Arts Council.

About Reel Asian
The Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival (Reel Asian), presented by National Bank, is a unique showcase of contemporary Asian cinema and work from the Asian diaspora. As Canada’s largest Asian film festival, Reel Asian® provides a public forum for Asian media artists and their work, and fuels the growing appreciation for Asian cinema in Canada. The 20th annual film festival runs in November 2016 in Toronto and Richmond Hill. Reel Asian will be showcasing special projects featuring prominent artists, musicians, up-and-coming filmmakers and also includes Reel Ideas events for creative minds to connect. Works presented at Reel Asian include films and videos by East, South and Southeast Asian artists in Canada, the U.S., Asia and all over the world.


For more information including media accreditation and interview requests, please contact:

Anne-Lise Kontz • (416) 593-0777 • anne-lise@touchwoodpr.com
Jennifer Rashwan • (416) 593-0777 • jennifer@touchwoodpr.com 
Alma Parvizian • (416) 593-0777 • alma@touchwoodpr.com