This year, the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival is launching our first festival keynote speaker, American comedian, writer and podcaster, Hari Kondabolu. In 2017, Kondabolu released his critically acclaimed documentary The Problem with Apu on truTV, where he confronts his long standing “nemesis” Apu Nahasapeemapetilon – better known as the Indian convenience store owner on The Simpsons – through a comedic cultural exposé that questions how this controversial caricature was created and how it continues to exist in the hearts and minds of Americans – intact – twenty-eight years later.
The evening is a celebration of Asians in the film industry. Kondabolu will reflect on his personal experiences and speak to the ongoing need for diverse Asian representations in the media. Following the phenomenal success of #AsianAugust with Crazy Rich Asians and Searching, and Sandra Oh’s history-making Emmy nomination, we continue to celebrate the collective achievements of Asian creatives working in the media industry. We hope to entertain, inspire and encourage our audience to continue the vital work they are doing and uphold our mandate of introducing and nurturing diverse representation on screen in Canada and the rest of the world.
Hari Kondabolu is a comedian, writer, and podcaster based in Brooklyn, NY. He has been described by The NY Times as “one of the most exciting political comics in stand-up today.” In 2018, his Netflix special Warn Your Relatives was released, and he was named one of Variety’s Top 10 Comics To Watch. Hari has released two chart-topping comedy albums, Waiting for 2042 and Mainstream American Comic, on legendary punk rock label Kill Rock Stars. He has performed on The Late Show with David Letterman, Conan, Jimmy Kimmel Live, John Oliver’s NY Stand-Up Show, @Midnight and has his own half-hour special on Comedy Central. A former writer and correspondent on the Chris Rock-produced FX TV show Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell.
The keynote will be moderated by Radheyan Simonpillai, a Culture Writer for Toronto’s alt-weekly NOW Magazine and Film Critic for CTV’s national breakfast show Your Morning. He also contributes to CTV News Channel and CBC Radio. Follow him on Twitter at @JustSayRad.