2008 Festival Comes to a Close!

Well, that’s another superb Reel Asian International Film Festival gone down in the books. They always put on a great show and this year they outdid themselves yet again. They had such wonderful offerings on so many fronts, it was an embarrassment of riches. The audiences were terrific, and we filmmakers were treated fantastically well. The final day was no exception.

Sunday morning began with a filmmakers’ brunch at a Reel Asian board member Philip Tsui’s home. I staggered in a little late, having had maybe 3 hours sleep from the previous night’s karaoke madness. The place was packed and the food was delicious, plentiful and healthy. Okay, well maybe not the dozen or so strips of bacon I scarfed down, but they kept coming and they were soooooo crispy. It was a good chance to relax and mingle with fellow fimmakers and festival staff in cozy setting.

Afterwards, I went over to Innis to check out the screenwriters’ workshop with Elke Town. I had heard she was very well-received in previous visits, so I was eager to check it out. She had lots of good advice and tips for writers. I knew a lot of the basics already, but it never hurts to have a refresher. She played a few clips from movies she brought, and provided us with some good handouts.

After attending a family dinner, it was time for the Closing Gala at Bloor Cinema. It was another packed house. The show was preceded by an Awards Presentation. The two friendly rivals from Trinity Square Video and Charles Street Video were very amusing.  I was mildly disappointed not to win for the pitch competition of course, but I was thrilled for my friend June Chua who did win my category. The competition was stiff this year and I didn’t envy the judges. June is sure to make a great film, as is Ian Tuason who won in the emerging category.

The screening itself was the surreal and quite zany Japanese film Adrift in Tokyo. It did seem a little aimless at times, as the title suggests. But it was always witty and surprising with the most unusual and unexpected turns. Very funny stuff.

The Closing Night Gala Party took place at Nirvana this year. Fortunately, it wasn’t far from the theatre since it was pretty chilly by then. Ian Tuason was true to his word and happily bought drinks for people as he promised in his pitch-slash-bribe. Lots of people danced. I had some good chats with friends both old and new. It was kind of sad, knowing that some would be leaving after this. And maybe the exhaustion of such a busy week was starting to hit home.

After last call, filmmaker Khanhthuan Tran invited some of us back to his hotel for ongoing festivities. There was beer and junk food, but I don’t think they ever did figure out a takeout restaurant choice. I think I finally left there at around 5am.

I probably should have gotten to sleep sooner since I knew Monday was going to be chaos again for me, with another Arts Council application deadline. But I got it in with two minutes to spare. It’s an appropriate bookend for me I suppose, since I began with an Arts Council deadline on the day before the Festival. I had another application deadline (NSI) during the festival. And with work and the pitch competition thrown in, I really didn’t get a chance to see nearly as many films as I would have liked. There were so many interesting choices this year.  And the films are what this festival is all about.

A big congratulations to the festival, the staff, the volunteers and all of the guests and filmmakers for making it such an exhilarating experience. It was a tremendous success. And already I can hardly wait ’til next year.

I’ll see you then!