Three years in the making, the Toronto International Film Festival’s massive retrospective A Century of Chinese Cinema (on now through August 11) is indeed a breathtaking spectacle. With 80 films, art exhibitions, and plenty of special guests, this is a project of breadth and depth only an institution with TIFF’s resources could mount.
Reel Asian is excited to be involved in TIFF’s A Century of Chinese Cinema through co-presenting five hand-picked films, and providing the connections to special guests Nora Miao 苗可秀 & Ivy Ling Po 凌波, who will personally introduce Fist of Fury (aka The Chinese Connection) 精武門 and The Love Eterne 梁山伯與祝英台 respectively.
In early 2011, Reel Asian was pleased to reintroduce Ms Miao to a new generation of fans in Richmond Hill. Ms Miao walked our red carpet for the Ontario premiere of Merry Go Round 東風破 and stayed to sign autographs with her fans. One of China’s most beloved actresses, Ivy Ling Po first walked our red carpet in 2008, when her son Kenneth Bi 畢國智’s film The Drummer 戰鼓 opened our festival.
Other films in TIFF’s retrospective have also made appearances at Reel Asian, including:
Screening on June 8 as part of the free triple-bill Buried Treasures of Chinese Silent Cinema, Red Heroine is the sixth episode of what was once a thirteen-part serial produced in Shanghai during the martial arts craze of the 1920s & 1930s. It had its Canadian premiere as our centrepiece presentation in 2009, with a live score performed by the Devil Music Ensemble. Banned in China after the Cultural Revolution, this is believed to be the only surviving part of the serial.
Screening on June 11 as part of TIFF’s New Directions series, this early example of hybrid documentary was a harshly beautiful depiction of life in the Tibetan steppes that defied the trend towards romanticization. It made its Toronto premiere as our closing night gala in 2005.
Also part of TIFF’s New Directions series, this film screens on June 18. Reel Asian was only in its second year back in 1998 when we had the foresight to screen it as a special presentation. We were the first festival to bring Fruit Chan’s now-classic indie gangster flick to Toronto screens.
Reel Asian is proud of its track record over more than 16 years of bringing the best of pan-Asian cinema – including Chinese cinema from Mainland, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and across the worldwide Chinese diaspora – to audiences in Toronto and (since 2010) Richmond Hill. We thank our colleagues at TIFF for engaging us as programming partners for their Century of Chinese Cinema retrospective.