Showbiz / Top 5 Must-Watch Films at Reel Asian International Film Festival

Top 5 Must-Watch Films at Reel Asian International Film Festival

Showbiz Nov 08, 2016

Reel Asian International Film Festival

We celebrate 20 years of cinematic diversity with our list of what you need to watch at the upcoming Reel Asian Film Festival! 

It’s been dubbed Canada’s longest running and largest Pan-Asian film festival. The Reel Asian International Film Festival is back for it’s 20th anniversary and is promising to be bigger than ever with more than 77 films being screened from November 8th – 19th in GTA theaters – even expanding into the TIFF Bell Lightbox this year. All of the films have been produced or co-produced by East, Southeast and South Asian artists from right across the globe and will not only continue to tell multi-generational stories, but look to the future by introducing new voices in the Asian diaspora. Over the course of the 12-day festival, more than 10,000 people are expected to attend the various events.

Here are the top five must-see flicks at this year’s fest:



Photo Caption: Sairat/2016
Photo Credit: Sairat/2016

Director Nagraj Manjule is returning to Reel Asian with India’s highest-grossing Marathi-language film. The flick will close out the festival on November 19th at 7 p.m at U of T’s Isabel Bader Theater. What’s most noteworthy about the movie are the two non-actors cast to give the film a very authentic feel.  The story is a familiar one –  low-class boy falls for wealthy girl and the girl’s family disapproves, leaving them to fend for themselves in the real world – with, of course, plenty of singing, dancing and music in between. An added bonus, there will be a 20-minute intermission to break up the more than 2.5-hour film, where guests can enjoy a cup of complimentary tea.



Photo Credit: Soul Mate/2016
Photo Credit: Soul Mate/2016

Described as poignant, poetic and intimate the opening night film has its Toronto premiere at the Isabel Bader Theatre in The University of Toronto campus on November 8th at 7:30 p.m. The critically acclaimed drama tells the story of two childhood girlfriends whose loyalties are put to the test, ultimately leading them down separate paths. Years later they are forced to confront one another and end up uncovering a deep secret. The screening marks the highly anticipated return of film director, Derek Tsang, to Reel Asian five years after his directorial debut.



Photo Caption: Rites Of Passage/2016
Photo Credit: Rites Of Passage/2016

The world premiere of this documentary-style film is on November 13th at 7 p.m., also at the Isabel Bader Theatre on the U of T campus. The 40-minute piece is a compilation of home videos from the five female Asian filmmakers used to reflect how they view their cultural heritage through their own personal experiences. In a unique live performance, the film will be accompanied by Canadian-Indie orchestral pop band “Ohbijou”with an original musical score. The group has been on an indefinite hiatus since 2013 and their appearance is sure to be a rare treat for attendees.



Photo Caption: Nari/2015
Photo Credit: Nari/2015


Another musical film event (this one non-fiction) – garnering a lot buzz due to depiction of two women who are part of world-renowned family of musicians the Shankars’ – will have its screening at 7:30 p.m. on November 17th at the Aga Khan Museum in North York.  Nari, which means both woman and sacrifice in Sanskrit documents the hardships Lakshmi Shankar and her daughter, Viji, had to overcome in their quest to bring Indian music to the West in the 70s through their close collaborations with Ravi Shankar and The Beatles’ George Harrison. This presentation begins with a short film, followed by an entrancing performance by Viji’s daughter, Gingger Shankar, who is the only woman in the world able to play the double violin.


Photo Caption: Window Horses/2016

The voices of Hollywood heavyweights Sandra Oh and Ellen Page are featured in this animated film by multi-award winning Canadian Anne Marie Fleming, which will have its screening at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto on November 16th at 8:30 p.m.  Blended with poetry and great story-telling, this feature takes viewers on a journey with a young poet who goes to a poetry festival in Iran, much to the worry of her over-protective Chinese grandparents, and uncovers a secret about her father and her own cultural identity.


Main Image Photo Credit: Reel Asian Film Festival 2016 

Neetu Seupersadsingh

Neetu Seupersadsingh


Neetu Seupersadsingh has loved writing for as long as she can remember. That's why Carleton University’s journalism program  was her clear choice for post-secondary studies. In Ottawa, she was able to further develop her skill in arts, entertainment and lifestyle reporting. So...