Asians Inside & Out!

Reel Asian is proud to be a community co-presenter of Nancy Nicol’s Canada/India coproduction No Easy Walk To Freedom at the 24th annual Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film Festival.  The film will screen at noon on Sunday, June 1, in Cinema 1 at the TIFF Bell Lightbox – get your tickets here starting May 8.

This year’s selection was unveiled at a gala media launch on Wednesday night and there are some names & titles in the mix that will be familiar to Reel Asian audiences. Full programming details are now online and all screenings are at the TIFF Bell Lightbox unless otherwise indicated. Tickets go on sale to the public beginning May 8.

Screening in the always-sold-out Local Heroes programme (7:30pm on Thursday, May 29, in Cinema 1) are three films that premiered at our fest in 2013:

My Father, Francis (dir. Casey Mecija, 12min) While the members of acclaimed indie band Ohbijou have decided to stop making music together, singer-songwriter Mecija shows no signs of lacking a creative outlet.  This, her debut film, had its world premiere at Reel Asian last year and went on to win the WIFT-T Award, a $1200 recognition by her peers at the Toronto chapter of Women In Film & Television.

Gaysian (dir. Austin Wong, 8min) also had its world premiere at Reel Asian in 2013, and has since gone on to play nationally and internationally to great acclaim.  The local cast includes Reel Asian stalwart Richard Lee, while Inside Out audiences will recognize his co-star Adamo Ruggiero.

Waack Revolt – A Dance Film (dir. Sonia Hong, 11min) was specially commissioned by Reel Asian as part of our Sprung community collaboration, a two-year project that began in 2011.  We strategically paired filmmakers and dance artists to create new work; these works had their world premiere at last year’s Reel Asian.  Hong’s previous work, A Dragged Out Affair: The Musical, was developed through our So You Think You Can Pitch? initiative in 2009, had its world premiere with us in 2010, then went on to screen at Inside Out, where it earned Hong their Best Up-and-Coming Toronto Filmmaker Award in 2011.

Get your tickets early to the Local Heroes programme – there may be over 500 seats, but every one of them is likely to be filled. Other work with Asian themes or key creatives in the festival include:

The Language of Love (dir. Laura Scrivano, Australia 2013, 9min) – part of the special youth matinée programme Teenage Dream (1pm on Friday, May 23, in Cinema 2), this affecting short stars (and was written by) mixed-race Aussie teen Kim Ho when he was just 17. The film has since earned accolades from the likes of Ellen DeGeneres and Stephen Fry.

The daughter of Filipino immigrants to America, Michele Josue has been generating much buzz & anticipation with her intensely personal documentary feature, Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine (USA 2013, 88min; 1:30pm on Saturday, May 24, in Cinema 1), making its international premiere here at Inside Out. This October will mark 16 years since Shepard’s violent murder shocked, then galvanized LGBT communities across America and around the world.

Chris Chew returns to Inside Out with her latest work, Click (Canada 2013, 18min), part of the Building a Herstory programme (2:30pm on Saturday, May 24, in Cinema 2).  A well-regarded Asian Canadian photographer currently based in West Hollywood, Chew imbues her filmmaking with a fine eye for detail – and a wicked wit.

New York-based filmmaker Sha Huang has had his work shown in Beijing & London, and now his doc Under Ground (China/USA 2013, 15min) comes to Toronto as part of Inside Out’s World’s Best Docs programme (1:45pm on Sunday, May 25, in Cinema 1). This portrait of two Chinese immigrant women trying to survive and create a life together in NYC is both heartbreaking and uplifting.

Emmeline Kim’s dance film dearSAPPHO (USA 2013, 5min) is a rhythmic exploration of two young lovers whose relationship is coming apart even as they are dancing together. Plays in the shorts programme The Night Is Young (7:30pm on Monday, May 26, in Cinema 3).

The always-popular Scared (Not So) Straight shorts programme (5:30pm on Wednesday, May 28, in Cinema 3) features a bunch of creepy genre titles, including LA native Rich Yap’s WOOF (USA 2014, 4min).  Be careful who you pick up in the park!

Celebrating 15 years of projecting the wide variety of trans experiences & lives, this year’s Transplanetarium programme (7:45pm on Friday, May 30, in Cinema 2) includes three titles from Asian directors working in the diaspora: Montréal’s Elisha Lim’s experimental short 100 Crushes Chapter 6: They (Canada 2014, 2min); Wu Tsang’s haunting You’re Dead To Me (USA 2013, 13min), and Crescent Diamond’s portrait of South Asian trans performer D’Lo, Performing Girl (USA 2013, 25min)

Originally from Torrance, California, Korean American Joanne Mony Park is currently completing her MFA at the Tisch School of Art in NYC. Her Mamihlapinatapai (USA 2013, 10min) is a curious examination of the meaning of a glance, and plays in the A Little Bit Closer shorts programme (9:45pm on Saturday, May 31, in Cinema 2)

Look for local Asian Canadian thespian (and certified stage combatant!) Samantha Wan in the Season 2 Preview for LESlieVILLE (Canada 2014), part of the Web Series Showcase (3pm on Sunday, June 1, in Cinema 2).  Other Asian talent featured include Aparna Nancherla & Hye Mee Na in the American web series F to 7th (USA 2014).

Congratulations to all the filmmakers in selection! Follow @InsideOutTO and the #InsideOut2014 & #SeeForYourself hashtags on Twitter for all the latest happenings.

* Chris Chin, the author of this blog post, is Reel Asian’s festival & operations manager. He has been a programmer at Inside Out since 2011, often enjoys writing in the third person, and is super-excited that Matt Bomer is coming to the festival for the Canadian premiere of The Normal Heart