Reel Asian Announces Films for 2016 Fest Including Five Docs

Mixed Match is one of five feature docs at Reel Asian.

Toronto’s Reel Asian Film Festival celebrates its 20th anniversary this season. This year’s programme shows the festival going strong with a diverse line-up of Canadian and international films by Asian filmmakers and fillmakers of the Asian diaspora. Reel Asian 2016 opens with the romantic drama Soul Mate by Derek Tsang and closes with the jubilant Sairat from Nagraj Manjule. Both directors will attend the festival.

Also attending Reel Asian is Jeff Chiba Stearns, the director of Mixed Match, which is one of five feature documentaries at the festival. Stearns’ previous credits include the feature One Big Hapa Family and the short doc Yellow Sticky Notes | Canadian Anjiam.

The other feature docs at the festival include the Canadian premiere of Salima Koroma’s portrait of the unsung struggle of Asian rappers in Bad Rap, while Steven Dhoedt & Choi Wooyoung look at the plight of South Korean students in Reach for the Sky. Finally, Pamela Tom’s acclaimed Tyrus gives a snapshot of Disney sketch artist Tyrus Wong.

Reel Asian’s menu features other documentary dumplings that take the fest beyond screenings. The festival features a Closing Keynote by Reel Asian co-founder and NFB producer Anita Lee (The Apology, Stories We Tell), along with talks from Ann Marie Fleming (Window Horses) and Randall Okita (The Lockpicker).

Opening Night Gala Presentation:
Soul Mate
Tues, Nov. 8, 7:30pm – Isabel Bader Theatre
Dir. Derek Tsang | Hong Kong | 94:00 | Toronto Premiere

Model student Qiyue and free-spirited Ansheng are the best of friends, forming their inseparable bond from the moment they met as children. Soon their loyalties are put to the test when a boy and the cruelties of youth lead them to embark on separate paths until one day, a web novella based on their lives surfaces uncovering a deep secret. Poignant, poetic and unforgivingly intimate, Soul Mate is produced by notable Hong Kong filmmaker Peter Chan and marks the return of director Derek Tsang to Reel Asian.

Closing Night Gala Presentation:
Fri. Nov 18, 7:00pm – Isabel Bader Theatre
Dir. Nagraj Manjule | India | 174:00 | Canadian Premiere

Fun loving Parshya is beloved by his neighourhood cricket team and has a crush on Archi, the daughter of a wealthy, upper caste politician. Their star-crossed love is put to the test when Archi’s father discovers their relationship and drives the young couple to flee to a shanty town. The highest-grossing Marathi film in India, director Nagraj Manjule once again casts non-actors in a movie that features singing, dancing and a soundtrack composed by Indian musical duo Ajay-Atul.

Docs at Reel Asian

Bad Rap
Fri, Nov. 11, 9:00pm – TIFF Bell Lightbox, Cinema 2
Dir. Salima Koroma | USA | 82:00 | Canadian Premiere

From battle rhymes of crowd-favorite Dumbfoundead to the tongue-in-cheek songs of Awkwafina, the unapologetic visuals of Rekstizzy to conflicted values of Lyricks, Bad Rap paints a memorable portrait of artistic passion in the face of an unsung struggle. In a media landscape characterized by a lack of diversity, Bad Rap delivers the message that we can be anything we want to be, despite what others think.

Mixed Match
Tues, Nov. 15, 7:00pm – Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre
Dir. Jeff Chiba Stearns (in attendance) | Canada | 96:00 | Toronto Premiere

Award-winning Japanese Canadian filmmaker Jeff Chiba Stearns’ new documentary explores the crisis in identifying bone marrow and cord blood donors for patients of mixed ethnicity suffering from life-threatening blood diseases such as leukemia.

Mixed Match – Festival Trailer 2016 from Mixed Match on Vimeo.

Reach for the Sky
Mon, Nov. 14, 3:45pm – TIFF Bell Lightbox, Cinema 3
Dir. Steven Dhoedt & Choi Wooyoung | USA | 90:00 | Canadian Premiere

Every November, South Korea is fully focused on the Suneung, a national student exam that determines your chance of being admitted to the most prestigious universities in the country. A documentary on the pursuit for perfection, Reach for the Sky is an in-depth look on the students’ gut-wrenching pressure to strive for excellence and to gain their place in the sky.

Tsukiji Wonderland
Fri Nov 11, 6:15pm – TIFF Bell Lightbox, Cinema 2
Dir. Naotaro Endo | Japan | 110:00 | Toronto Premiere

A hypnotic documentary that delves into the wonderment and bustle of the world-class chefs and fisherman whose livelihood are at stake following the impending closure of the 80-year-old Tokyo Tsukiji market. Featuring interviews with Michelin-star restauranteurs Jiro Ono and Rene Redzepi.

Sat, Nov. 12, 12:00pm – AGO Jackman Hall
Dir. Pamela Tom | USA | 73:00 | Toronto Premiere

At a time when most Chinese Americans were employed as restaurant owners or laundromat workers, Tyrus Wong defied all barriers to become one of few Asians to be employed as sketch artist at Disney and ultimately inspired the unique look and feel of Bambi.

Reel Asian runs November 8-19 in Toronto and Richmond Hill.
Tickets are now on sale. Please visit for more information.

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