10 Films to watch for at the 2021 Reel Asian International Film Festival

The 25th edition of the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival is coming up this November 10 to 19, 2021. This year’s festival is taking place in the city in-person as well as online. The Festival is an incredible showcase of contemporary cinema from Asia and Asian diaspora in Canada and worldwide.

Here are 10 films that are on our watch list at first glance.

ISLANDS by filmmaker Martin Edralin (Canada 2021). Opening Night film.

Joshua, a timid, middle-aged Filipino immigrant in Canada (Scarborough) has lived in the comfort of his parents care his entire life. When his mother suddenly passes and his father’s health declines, he quits his job to look after his father full-time despite his inexperience taking care of anyone, including himself.

Islands by Martin Edralin

DRIFTING by Jun Li (Hong Kong 2021)

Just out of jail, a man finds a spot on a street corner where other homeless people welcome him. However, the police soon chase them away from there make-shift homes without any notice, and their possessions are raided and thrown away. A young social worker decides to fight for them in court. This film is based on an actual court case in 2012 involving homeless people in Sham Shui Po.

TAIPEI SUICIDE STORY by filmmaker KEFF (Taiwan 2020)

A receptionist at a suicide hotel in Taipei, Taiwan forms a fleeting friendship over the course of one night with a guest who can’t decide if she wants to live or die. It’s a hotel where people check in with options on how they would like to check out. But this one guest’s overstayed welcome has viewers contemplating what we owe a stranger who’s life, we are presuming, will end.

MY MISSING VALENTINE by filmmaker Chen Yu-hsun (Taiwan 2021)

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.

MY MISSING VALENTINE by filmmaker Chen Yu-hsun

BEYOND THE INFINITE TWO MINUTES by filmmaker Junta Yamaguchi (Japan 2021)

A cafe owner discovers that the TV in his cafe suddenly shows images from the future, but only two minutes into the future. This 70 minute one-take entertaining time travel sci-fi comedy of a simple man is touted as warm and fuzzy …something we don’t often heard described for the genre.

I WAS A SIMPLE MAN by filmmaker Christopher Makoto Yogi (USA 2021)

A family in Hawai’i faces the imminent death of their eldest, Masao, as the ghosts her carries from the past haunt the countryside on the North Shore of Oahu.

I Was A Simple Man by filmmaker Christopher Makoto Yogi

TRY HARDER! by filmmaker Debbie Lum (USA 2021)

In a universe where cool kids are nerds, the orchestra is world class and being Asian American is the norm, seniors at Lowell High School compete for the top prize: admission to the college of their dreams. This documentary follows the students as they apply and hope to achieve their  next goal in life.

THREE SISTERS by filmmaker Lee Seung-won (South Korea 2020)

Three sisters in different damaged marriages and lifestyles.  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 as they regroup at their hometown for their father’s birthday.

7 DAYS by filmmaker Roshan Sethi

7 DAYS by filmmaker Roshan Sethi (USA 2021)

Set up on a pre-arranged date by their old-fashioned Indian parents, Ravi and Rita seem to have nothing in common, which makes their first encounter comically awkward in this rom-com that will sure to leave the audience with good vibes.

IN BETWEEN GIRL by filmmaker Mei Makino (USA 2021)

After being met with the destabilizing news of her parents’ divorce, Angie, a teenage, mixed-race Asian girl, reckons with her multiracial identity and sexual awakening in this quirky coming-of-age story.

For tickets, schedule and for more info on the full line up including feature films, shorts and other programming can be found at www.reelasian.com.



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