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6 Films you shouldn’t miss at the 25th Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival

These are six films you shouldn’t miss at the 25th Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival which will take place from November 10 – 19th, 2021.

– Selected Films –

Beyond the infinite two minutes by Junta Yamaguchi – Japan | 2021 – 70 minutes

Cafe owner Kato closes up shop on an ordinary night only to be interrupted by a voice from the TV: his own voice, two minutes in the future. As Kato investigates the strange occurrence, the night and time itself start to unravel. Kato’s friends and colleagues get enveloped into his time warp, and the results are hilarious, calamitous and existential.

A lean, DIY sci-fi written and performed by members of the Kyoto-based Europe Kikaku theatre group, the film uses its talents, resources, and smarts to their fullest potential, with long takes, simple locations, and finely tuned performances. But this is no modest project. It is equal parts an ambitious, mind-bending, and joyous ride of twists and turns through the (very near) future.  -Aram Siu Wai Collier

Screening Date:
Available online from November 10th – 19th, 2021

Trailer:

Drifting by Jun Li – Hong Kong | 2021 – 112 minutes

Deep in the night, Fai and his friends are sleeping on the streets of Sham Shui Po, the poorest district in Hong Kong. The police arrive without notice and clear out their belongings, their makeshift homes reduced to roadside trash. With the help of social worker Ms. Ho, Fai takes the case to court, while he and his friends struggle to create a new home.

Based on a true story from 2012, Drifting sharply observes Hong Kong’s inequalities and injustices. Shot during the 2019 protests, without directly mentioning them, the film has clear resonances with its social milieu. Featuring stellar performances by Hong Kong actors new and old, including veteran actor Francis Ng and rising star Cecilia Choi, Drifting is a quietly raging film about dispossession, justice, and the right to live in an unlivable world. – Ron Ma

Screening Date:
Available online from November 10th – 19th, 2021

Trailer:

I Was a Simple Man by Christopher Makoto Yogi – USA | 2021 – 100 minutes

On the pastoral North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii, the end is near for Masao, an ill and elderly man with regrets to spare. As he looks back, his family history, dreams, and mythology swirl around him as  ghosts he carries with him in his final days. Meanwhile, I Was A Simple Man shifts in time through pre-WWII country landscapes of days past, statehood, and a concrete-bound, contemporary Honolulu, mirroring 20th-century Hawaiian history.

Following his atmospheric first feature, August at Akiko’s, and developed from his short film Obake (Ghosts), which showed at Reel Asian in 2012, with I Was A Simple Man, Christopher Makoto Yogi ambitiously continues to reach for the place between the seen and unseen, the feelings deeply felt but left unsaid, and to chart changes over time, all told with sublime imagery and sound, with a deep connection to the land, sea, and sky of his hometown in Hawaii.  –  Aram Siu Wai Collier

Screening Date:
Available online from November 10th – 19th, 2021

Trailer:

My Missing Valentine by Chen Yu-hsun – Taiwan | 2021 – 119 minutes

Hsiao-chi has never been an ordinary girl. She is always a step faster than everyone else, perhaps too fast for her to connect with anyone romantically. With Valentine’s Day approaching, Hsiao-chi’s anxious about finding someone. When she finds herself the dream date, she goes to bed looking forward to Valentine’s Day. But to her surprise and disappointment, she wakes up on February 15. Maybe A-tai, the bus driver who is a step slower than everyone else, has the answer to her missing Valentine’s Day.

This whimsical and heartwarming love story will take you on a journey to find Hsiao-chi’s missing Valentine’s Day. As you piece the puzzle together through the two different perspectives of Hsiao-chi and A-tai, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by its fairytale-like way of unfolding a story about “bad timing.” A talented cast, including rookie Patty Lee, will make you wish the tale would last a bit longer. – June Kim

Screening Dates:
Available online from November 10th – 19th, 2021

Trailer:

Three Sister by Lee Seung-won – South Korea | 2021 – 115 minutes

Mi-yeon seems to be living the perfect life as a choirmaster and the wife of a successful man. In comparison, her sisters Hee-sook and Mi-ok seem to be miserable, making Mi-yeon frustrated. But in the shadow behind her perfect smile, Mi-yeon’s also suffering from the three sisters’ shared childhood trauma that they’ve yet to come to terms with. On the day of their father’s birthday, the monstrous truth breaks free from its bubble, leading to turmoil.

Three Sisters is an emotional rollercoaster that samples contemporary Korean society. It critically questions how domestic violence, childhood trauma, and social standing are both seen and overlooked through the stories of the three unique characters. Moon So-ri, an award-winning actress and the film’s co-producer, plays Mi-yeon in a rare and strong women-led film with a cathartic ending. – June Kim

Screening Date:
Available online from November 10th – 19th, 2021

Trailer:

Waikiki by Christopher Kahunahana – USA | 2020 – 77 minutes

Kea can’t make ends meet, even while working as a luau dancer, karaoke-bar hostess, and elementary school Hawaiian-language teacher. After a violent altercation with her boyfriend, Kea accidentally hits a homeless man with her car. Not wanting to involve the authorities, she decides to take care of the mysterious man herself. But while she continues to struggle with her own financial hardship and difficulty finding housing, Kea’s downward spiral begins to reveal a deeply rooted trauma from her past. As her life careens out of control, so too does her grasp on the world around her. 

Christopher Kahunahana’s captivating storytelling ventures beyond the world-famous titular tourist destination and strikes an aesthetic that is perhaps unfamiliar to those with cursory knowledge of idyllic Hawaii. Kahunahana’s juxtaposition of the latter against the cold concrete of looming and perpetual urban development casts a critical look at the gentrified waste of ecological decay, systemic poverty, and the enduring legacy of U.S. colonization, which haunts the faces and spaces of Kahunahana’s film. Waikiki is a critical contribution to the growing body of Native Hawaiian cinema.   –  Kevin Lim

Screening Date:
Available online from November 10th – 19th, 2021

Trailer:

For more information please visit: https://www.reelasian.com

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