Film culture loves a genius. Auteurs anointed by the cinematic gods with a touch of movie magic make for good film lore. And there may be a few geniuses among us—however, most filmmakers languish from one film to the next, carrying hard-earned lessons forward in the hopes of another big swing.

In our inaugural First Films event, award-winning Asian Canadian filmmakers show the first films they’ve ever made. They will reveal their origin stories—that time they caught the movie bug; the place their creative voices first started cracking.

Here, we salute the earnest creation, irrational confidence, and the miracle of early- (or pre-)career filmmaking. What filmmakers call their “first film” is often arbitrary. They usually cite the first film that “did well”—as in played film festivals, sold to distributors, or won awards. But we’ve convinced three successful filmmakers to show their actual first short films.

In some cases, these films have never been seen publicly until now. Join us as these brave filmmakers celebrate, commiserate, and cringe through their first films.

– Aram Siu Wai Collier

This presentation is in a cabaret-style format, with each filmmaker taking turns presenting their work and then joining the others for a short roundtable of good-natured critique. There will be a cash bar and free snacks and the audience is encouraged to partake before the event, during the roundtable portions, and after the event.

Directors Bio

Sunday Afternoon

Renuka Jeyapalan Profile Image

Canada19995 minEnglishFirst Films

Director Bio

Renuka Jeyapalan

Renuka Jeyapalan is a Toronto-based writer and director. Her shorts have screened at TIFF, Tribeca, and the Berlinale. She has directed episodes of Kim’s Convenience, Workin’ Moms, Sort Of, Children Ruin Everything, Son Of A Critch, and the Netflix original series Ginny & Georgia. Her first feature, Stay The Night, premiered at South by Southwest and played at Reel Asian in 2022.

Here I Am

Sami Khan Profile Image

Canada201010 minEnglishFirst Films

Director Bio

Sami Khan

Sami Khan is a Canadian filmmaker who directed St. Louis Superman (2019), a short documentary that was shortlisted for the 2020 Academy Awards and was acquired by MTV Documentary Films. Khoya, his first fiction feature as writer-director, was selected for the Tribeca Film Institute’s All Access grant. Khan is also the director of Angel Dose and the PBS series Spice Road.

Hacking ‘Til My Legs Fall Off

Joyce Wong Profile Image

Canada20048 minEnglishFirst Films

Director Bio

Joyce Wong

Joyce Wong is an award-winning director and writer. Her debut narrative feature, Wexford Plaza, is a dark comedy that screened in competition at Slamdance in 2017, and was nominated for the Toronto Film Critics Association’s Best Canadian Film Award. She has directed for shows such as Sort Of, The Sticky, Baroness Von Sketch Show, Fakes, Workin’ Moms, Spencer Sisters, and Run The Burbs.



Content Warning: drug use, needles

18 Nov, 2023 7:00 pm

CSI Annex

*Please note the date/time and location has been updated here since the programme guide has been issued



No Captions icon Wheelchair/Step-Free Seating Available icon
The works in this program are historic and are being presented without captions. Wheelchair spaces and step-free seating is available for this screening – click below to book accessible seats.

Special Partner

With Support From

Community Supporter



Sharjil Rasool
Comedian, Actor and Writer

Sharjil Rasool is a comedian, actor and writer. He is an alumni of The Second City Toronto Mainstage where he wrote and performed in three critically acclaimed revues, and was featured in JFL42’s New Faces. You can catch him as Nikhil in Run the Burbs (CBC) and the voice of Ajit in Bakugan (Cartoon Network). Other television credits include What We Do in the Shadows (FX), Baroness von Sketch Show (CBC/IFC) and Abroad (Omni). He’d really love it if you followed him on Twitter (@sharjilrasool) and Instagram (@sharjilr).

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