Packed Crowd Fills 2009 Opening Night Gala

About 700 film revelers packed the Bloor Cinema as they partook to the opening night gala screening of Canadian premiere Overheard from Hong Kong for the 13th annual Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival.

“Tonight was a fantastic evening,” says Reel Asian executive director Sonia Sakamoto-Jog, who was introduced to the festival as a volunteer four years ago.

“It was a thrill to have (actor) Dominic Lam Kar Wah on the red carpet and on stage sharing his experiences working with the Overheard team, and a joy to welcome all of this year’s filmmakers to the festival.”

A selection of many films from around the world including Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Philippines, China and the United States will be screened throughout the six-day festival. Many of them made from our own backyard and distinctly Canadian.

Other notable dignitaries attending the gala included New Democratic Party Member of Parliament Olivia Chow, who has been attending the festival for over a decade.

“I’ve been going way back when they were at Innis College, right from the beginning,” says Chow.

Six years ago, Chow’s nephew was also one of the youngest filmmakers to showcase a film at the festival.

“Not only does film challenge us, entertain us, and learn from it, but it also gets us to ask who we are, where our home is, and what our identity defines us as Canadians.”

She adds, “To see Asian films by emerging Canadian artists is wonderful, but also being able to see internationally renowned Asian directors in Toronto.”

Before the gala film was screened, the audience were also treated to a multimedia and performance art film by two emerging Toronto filmmakers Lesley Loksi Chan and Serena Lee about lessons from their grandmother, complete with theatre-like moving images narrated from an overhead projector.

With four more days to soak up the festival, anyone who want to find out more information regarding Reel Asian’s industry events, parties, film screenings with their times and locations, please visit the Reel Asian web site.