Down a Dark Stairwell: Special Screening and Live Panel

USA202083 minEnglish, Cantonese, Mandarin with English SubtitlesDocumentary, Women Filmmakers

Only Available in Ontario

Down a Dark Stairwell takes a nuanced and careful look at the events following the 2014 case where Akai Gurley was shot and killed in the stairwell of an apartment building by Chinese-American NYPD officer Peter Liang.

Director Ursula Liang (no relation to Peter) and her crew follow the Black Lives Matter protests rallying around Gurley’s family to support a conviction, while also following various predominantly Asian American communities’ protest responses to what they deem an unfair trial.

In our current context of urgent calls for accountability around excessive police violence, Down A Dark Stairwell’s raw and honest witness to the ways racial politics fissure and divide us feels timely and necessary. In documenting multiple communities’ response to every new development from the event, the film contends with how fraught and limited notions of justice can be, and the devastating violence that the policing system inflicts on Black communities.

- Jasmine Gui

Recognitions

OFFICIAL SELECTIONS
True/False Film Festival, 2020
Visions du Réel, 2020
Blackstar Film Festival, 2020

AWARDS
Best Documentary, Ashland Independent Film Festival 2020

Director Bio

Ursula Liang

Ursula Liang is a journalist-turned-filmmaker. After working in print (ESPN The Magazine, T: The New York Times Magazine), she directed two critically-acclaimed feature documentaries, 9-Man and Down a Dark Stairwell. Ursula lives in the Bronx, N.Y.

12 Nov, 2020 7:00 pm

to 13 Nov, 2020 7:00 pm

Live Panel Discussion, November 12 at 8:45PM

REGISTER FOR FREE TICKET

With Support From

Live panel discussion with special guests

Accompanying our opening night screening presentation of Down a Dark Stairwell is a live online discussion with special guests.

ASL interpretation supported and made available by Toronto Sign Language Interpreter Services. Active listener available from 8:30PM – 11:30PM.

November 12, 2020 at 8:45PM

Syrus Marcus Ware
Activist and artist

Syrus Marcus Ware is a Vanier scholar, visual artist, activist, curator and educator. Syrus uses painting, installation and performance to explore social justice frameworks and black activist culture. He is part of the Performance Disability Art Collective and a core-team member of Black Lives Matter – Toronto. 

Ursula Liang
Director, Down A Dark Stairwell

Ursula Liang is a journalist-turned-filmmaker. After working in print (ESPN The Magazine, T: The New York Times Magazine), she directed two critically-acclaimed feature documentaries, 9-Man and Down a Dark Stairwell. Ursula lives in the Bronx, N.Y.

J.M. Harper
Editor and co-writer, Down a Dark Stairwell

J.M. Harper is a documentarian. Down A Dark Stairwell is his third documentary feature as editor. He’s currently editing a feature documentary about Kanye West. His work has been featured on AdWeek, Vimeo Staff Picks, FADER and the Guggenheim.

Michelle Chang
Editor, Down a Dark Stairwell

Michelle Chang is a Brooklyn-based editor of documentary features as well as short form projects. Feature credits include When Claude Got Shot, Harbor From the Holocaust, 9-MAN, Like Any Other Kid, (A)Sexual, American Promise (Additional Editor for POV Broadcast, Emmy nomination). Before becoming an editor, Michelle was an associate producer for ABC News “20/20” and “Primetime.”

Director note:

This case captured the attention of national media and highlighted what we in our respective communities have known for a long time: we are not united. In fact, in low whispers with problematic language, we often talk about one another. But what we are not talking about is the many reasons why this space between us exists: bubbles created by social media filters and propaganda, white supremacy, structural oppression, social inequality and isolation.

I want to learn from these conversations. To look at how the complexities of this case reflect the complexities of our fight for humanity, agency and respect. To talk about whether the battles we fight bring us power or dissipate it. And to examine who really benefits when marginalized groups are divided.

- Ursula Liang

You May Also Like...

Shorts
Resurgence

Abundant with hope, desire, and resiliency, all six of these films make a statement to queer histories, presents, and futures—in front of and behind the screen.

12 Nov. 10:00 am - 19 Nov. 11:59 pm

Features
Moving On

Broke and evicted from their basement apartment in Seoul, teenager Okju, her little brother Dongju, and their divorced father must move in with their ailing grandfather at the city’s outskirts. Soon joined by an aunt reeling from her own failed marriage, they spend the summer getting reacquainted with each other as an ad hoc multigenerational family unit, which was the norm just a generation ago.

12 Nov. 10:00 am - 19 Nov. 11:59 pm

Shorts
Side by Side

Starting from a place of silence, these five films poignantly position the ways intergenerational trauma is held and healing can begin.

12 Nov. 10:00 am - 19 Nov. 11:59 pm

Side by Side

Canada, South Korea, Taiwan65 minEnglish and various languages with English SubtitlesAnimation, Dance, Documentary, Drama, Family, LQBTQ+ Filmmakers, Women Filmmakers

Starting from a place of silence, these five films poignantly position the ways intergenerational trauma is held and healing can begin.

The Way We Are

Amanda Ann-Min Wong Profile Image

Canada202015 minEnglish with English SubtitlesDocumentary, Family, LQBTQ+ Filmmakers, Women Filmmakers

Rated PG

Pairing personal home videos with audio-recorded stories from Katherine Chun, Wenda Li, Tamai Kobayashi, and Nancy Seto - four queer Asian women recall, relive, and reflect upon their adolescent years.  

Recognitions

OFFICIAL SELECTIONS
Inside Out Film Festival, 2020
Iris Prize Film Festival, 2020

AWARDS
Nominated, Iris Prize, 2020

Directors Bio

Amanda Ann-Min Wong

Amanda Ann-Min Wong is a filmmaker, writer, and musician originally from Singapore who now lives in Toronto. In her free time, she loves jamming out with her queer alt-rock band, cutsleeve.

In the Shadow of the Pines

Anne Koizumi Profile Image

Canada20208 minEnglishAnimation, Documentary, Family, Women Filmmakers

Rated PG

Tenderly crafted, director Anne Koizumi recounts a shameful childhood memory spurring conversation and a self-realization that which felt out of reach was there all along.

Recognitions

AWARDS
Honorable Mention – Betty Youson Award for Best Canadian Short Documentary, Hot Docs, 2020
Best Canadian Animation Winner, Ottawa International Animation Film Festival, 2020

Directors Bio

Anne Koizumi

Anne Koizumi’s films have screened nationally and internationally. Additionally, Koizumi teaches stop-motion animation workshops across Canada and is currently a media arts educator at the NFB.

Ikebana

Alejandro Yoshizawa Profile Image

Canada20194 minEnglishToronto PremiereDocumentary, Family

Rated PG

Drawing parallels between ikebana and finding belonging, Japanese Canadian elder Kaz Takahashi shares stories of her upbringing.

Recognitions

OFFICIAL SELECTIONS
Seattle Asian American Film Festival, 2020
Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, 2020

Directors Bio

Alejandro Yoshizawa

Alejandro Yoshizawa is a filmmaker from Vancouver, British Columbia and currently an Adjunct Professor at the University of British Columbia in the Department of Theatre and Film as well as the Asian Canadian and Asian Migration Studies Program.

Tiger and Ox
호랑이와 소

Seunghee Kim Profile Image

South Korea20198 minKorean with English SubtitlesCanadian PremiereAnimation, Documentary, Family, Open Captions, Women Filmmakers

Rated PG-13

Confronting patriarchy and societal gender norms aside, Tiger and Ox is about a fraught yet loving relationship between mother and daughter.

Recognitions

OFFICIAL SELECTIONS
Festival Internacional de Cine de Huesca, 2020
Palm Springs International Shorts Fest, 2020
San Diego Asian Film Festival, 2020

Directors Bio

Seunghee Kim

Seunghee Kim has pursued a career as an animation filmmaker since 2014. Her previous films Mirror in Mind and SimSim (The Realm of Deepest Knowing) won awards and screened at numerous international film festivals.

Sing Me a Lullaby

Tiffany Hsiung Profile Image

Canada202029 minEnglish, Taiwanese with English SubtitlesDocumentary, Family, LQBTQ+ Filmmakers, Open Captions, Women Filmmakers

Rated PG

A film that began over 15 years ago, Sing Me a Lullaby is a heartachingly touching story of a daughter’s attempt to piece together the missing parts in her mother’s history.

Recognitions

AWARDS
Short Cuts Share Her Journey Award, Toronto International Film Festival, 2020

Directors Bio

Tiffany Hsiung

Tiffany Hsiung is an international award-winning filmmaker based in Toronto, Canada. Her approach to storytelling is driven by the relationship that is built with the people she meets both in front and behind the lens.

12 Nov, 2020 10:00 am

to 19 Nov, 2020 11:59 pm

BUY TICKET
BUY STUDENT • SENIOR • ARTS WORKER • UN(DER)WAGED TICKETS

Live online Q&A with special guests

Join us in conversation with directors and special guests in attendance! ASL interpretation will be made available thanks to Toronto Sign Language Interpreter Services. Ticket holders can watch on the CineSend Reel Asian portal.

November 18, 2020 at 9PM

You May Also Like...

Shorts
Film Frenzy

A retired hitman, telephone counselor, Ronggeng dancer, and pug take the lead in these four cult-worthy shorts that are bound to make you question everything you thought you knew.

12 Nov. 10:00 am - 19 Nov. 11:59 pm

Shorts
Resurgence

Abundant with hope, desire, and resiliency, all six of these films make a statement to queer histories, presents, and futures—in front of and behind the screen.

12 Nov. 10:00 am - 19 Nov. 11:59 pm

Shorts
In Relation

In a world that feels ever so divisive, these three documentaries take a closer look at what it means to create new pathways for community mobilizing, recognize shortcomings of identity markers, and acknowledge the solidarity work that remains undone.

12 Nov. 10:00 am - 19 Nov. 11:59 pm

Sing Me a Lullaby

Canada202029 minEnglish, Taiwanese with English SubtitlesDocumentary, Family, LQBTQ+ Filmmakers, Open Captions, Women Filmmakers

Rated PG

A film that began over 15 years ago, Sing Me a Lullaby is a heartachingly touching story of a daughter’s attempt to piece together the missing parts in her mother’s history.

Recognitions

AWARDS
Short Cuts Share Her Journey Award, Toronto International Film Festival, 2020

Director Bio

Tiffany Hsiung

Tiffany Hsiung is an international award-winning filmmaker based in Toronto, Canada. Her approach to storytelling is driven by the relationship that is built with the people she meets both in front and behind the lens.

12 Nov, 2020 10:00 am

to 19 Nov, 2020 11:59 pm

BUY TICKET
BUY STUDENT • SENIOR • ARTS WORKER • UN(DER)WAGED TICKETS

Tiger and Ox
호랑이와 소

South Korea20198 minKorean with English SubtitlesCanadian PremiereAnimation, Documentary, Family, Open Captions, Women Filmmakers

Rated PG-13

Confronting patriarchy and societal gender norms aside, Tiger and Ox is about a fraught yet loving relationship between mother and daughter.

Recognitions

OFFICIAL SELECTIONS
Festival Internacional de Cine de Huesca, 2020
Palm Springs International Shorts Fest, 2020
San Diego Asian Film Festival, 2020

Director Bio

Seunghee Kim

Seunghee Kim has pursued a career as an animation filmmaker since 2014. Her previous films Mirror in Mind and SimSim (The Realm of Deepest Knowing) won awards and screened at numerous international film festivals.

12 Nov, 2020 10:00 am

to 19 Nov, 2020 11:59 pm

BUY TICKET
BUY STUDENT • SENIOR • ARTS WORKER • UN(DER)WAGED TICKETS

In the Shadow of the Pines

Canada20208 minEnglishAnimation, Documentary, Family, Women Filmmakers

Rated PG

Tenderly crafted, director Anne Koizumi recounts a shameful childhood memory spurring conversation and a self-realization that which felt out of reach was there all along.

Recognitions

AWARDS
Honorable Mention – Betty Youson Award for Best Canadian Short Documentary, Hot Docs, 2020
Best Canadian Animation Winner, Ottawa International Animation Film Festival, 2020

Director Bio

Anne Koizumi

Anne Koizumi’s films have screened nationally and internationally. Additionally, Koizumi teaches stop-motion animation workshops across Canada and is currently a media arts educator at the NFB.

12 Nov, 2020 10:00 am

to 19 Nov, 2020 11:59 pm

BUY TICKET
BUY STUDENT • SENIOR • ARTS WORKER • UN(DER)WAGED TICKETS

The Way We Are

Canada202015 minEnglish with English SubtitlesDocumentary, Family, LQBTQ+ Filmmakers, Women Filmmakers

Rated PG

Pairing personal home videos with audio-recorded stories from Katherine Chun, Wenda Li, Tamai Kobayashi, and Nancy Seto - four queer Asian women recall, relive, and reflect upon their adolescent years.  

Recognitions

OFFICIAL SELECTIONS
Inside Out Film Festival, 2020
Iris Prize Film Festival, 2020

AWARDS
Nominated, Iris Prize, 2020

Director Bio

Amanda Ann-Min Wong

Amanda Ann-Min Wong is a filmmaker, writer, and musician originally from Singapore who now lives in Toronto. In her free time, she loves jamming out with her queer alt-rock band, cutsleeve.

12 Nov, 2020 10:00 am

to 19 Nov, 2020 11:59 pm

BUY TICKET
BUY STUDENT • SENIOR • ARTS WORKER • UN(DER)WAGED TICKETS

Artistic Statement

Canada, China, USA65 minEnglish and various languages with English SubtitlesAnimation, Dance, Documentary, Drama, Family, LQBTQ+ Filmmakers, Women Filmmakers

These six dynamic films touch upon art not solely as a creative practice for self expression but an integral force in making space, along with the responsibilities that come with it.

Dancing On My Own

Alexandra Cuerdo Profile Image

USA202013 minEnglishInternational Premiere Dance, Documentary, Family, LQBTQ+ Filmmakers, Women Filmmakers

Rated PG

A love letter to the queer Asian community, director Allie Cuerdo finds the strength to come out and rebuild a relationship with her mom with a little help and inspiration from New York’s radical dance party Bubble_T.

Recognitions

OFFICIAL SELECTIONS
Bentonville Film Festival, 2020
Asian American International Film Festival, 2020

Directors Bio

Alexandra Cuerdo

Alexandra “Allie” Cuerdo is an award-winning Filipino-American director, writer and producer recently named one of the 100 Most Influential Filipina Women In the World by the Filipina Women’s Network.

Atomic Café: The Noisiest Corner in J-Town

Tadashi Nakamura, Akira Boch Profile Image

USA202010 minEnglishInternational Premiere Documentary

Rated PG

Hardcore and punk to the max, this electric documentary shares the story of Atomic Nancy and the infamous Atomic Café in L.A.

Recognitions

OFFICIAL SELECTION
Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, 2020

Directors Bio

Tadashi Nakamura, Akira Boch

Tadashi Nakamura was named one of CNN’s “Young People Who Rock” for being the youngest filmmaker at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and listed as one of the “Top Rising Asian American Directors” on IMDb.

Akira Boch is an Emmy-winning filmmaker and Director of the Watase Media Arts Center at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles.

Margo

Steffi Tupe Profile Image

Canada201914 minEnglishDrama, Family, Women Filmmakers

Rated PG-13
CW: Sexual harassment

A newcomer to the film industry, Margo’s careful and cautious actions make clear the insidious traces of misogyny that permeate through.

Cast

Maya Wong
Anthony Caputo
Logan Freeman
Sam
Emily Bolanos

Directors Bio

Steffi Tupe

Steffi Tupe is a first-generation Filipino-Canadian writer, director and producer with three dramatic short films under her belt Two Ladies, Sister and Margo.

Novena

Shirley Camia Profile Image

Canada20202 minEnglish with English SubtitlesInternational Premiere Animation, Family, Open Captions, Women Filmmakers

Rated PG

Created by a community of local Filipinx creatives, Novena is an affectingly crafted poetry animation touching upon grief, mourning, and healing.

Director Bio

Shirley Camia

Born in Winnipeg, Shirley Camia is a Filipina-Canadian poet who has lived across Canada, the Philippines, Japan and Kenya. Novena, based on her poem of the same name, is her debut poetry film.

Father Figure

Tanya Hoshi Profile Image

Canada20195 minEnglishWorld Premiere Documentary, Family, Open Captions, Women Filmmakers

Rated PG

Pakistani-Canadian artist Wahab Jaffer endearingly retells his journey from collector to artist and imparts the lessons he’s learned along the way.

Director Bio

Tanya Hoshi

Tanya Hoshi is a Pakistani-Canadian film and web series producer/director based in Toronto, Canada. When she’s not working, Hoshi is mentoring emerging filmmakers by helping them find their footing in the industry.

Handscape
夏青

Yiru Chen 陈伊如 Profile Image

China202019 minChinese Sign Language and Shanghainese with English SubtitlesCanadian PremiereClosed Captions, Dance, Drama, Family, Women Filmmakers

Rated PG-13
CW: Homophobic statements

Beautifully poetic, Handscape tells the story of Xia Qing and his desire to dance despite his mother’s outright disapproval.

Cast

Zhenyu Tang

Recognitions

OFFICIAL SELECTIONS
Show Low Film Festival 2020
National Film Festival for Talented Youth, 2020

Directors Bio

Yiru Chen 陈伊如

Yiru Chen is a film director, artist, and poet. Her goal is to promote education and art of sign languages – an essential key to Deaf culture, along with members of both communities.

12 Nov, 2020 10:00 am

to 19 Nov, 2020 11:59 pm

BUY TICKET
BUY STUDENT • SENIOR • ARTS WORKER • UN(DER)WAGED TICKETS

Live online Q&A with special guests

Join us in conversation with directors and special guests in attendance! ASL interpretation will be made available thanks to Toronto Sign Language Interpreter Services. Ticket holders can watch on the CineSend Reel Asian portal.

November 16, 2020 at 8PM

You May Also Like...

Shorts
Unsung Voices 9

Four fearless emerging filmmakers embarked on a summer-long filmmaking journey online. We’re proud to present their world premiere here.

12 Nov. 10:00 am - 19 Nov. 11:59 pm

Shorts
Resurgence

Abundant with hope, desire, and resiliency, all six of these films make a statement to queer histories, presents, and futures—in front of and behind the screen.

12 Nov. 10:00 am - 19 Nov. 11:59 pm

Shorts
Collective Memory

Each of these extraordinary films call upon the act of remembrance as important and timely work for community care, knowledge, and abundance.

12 Nov. 10:00 am - 19 Nov. 11:59 pm

Handscape
夏青

China202019 minChinese Sign Language and Shanghainese with English SubtitlesCanadian PremiereClosed Captions, Dance, Drama, Family, Women Filmmakers

Rated PG-13
CW: Homophobic statements

Beautifully poetic, Handscape tells the story of Xia Qing and his desire to dance despite his mother’s outright disapproval.

Cast

Zhenyu Tang

Recognitions

OFFICIAL SELECTIONS
Show Low Film Festival 2020
National Film Festival for Talented Youth, 2020

Director Bio

Yiru Chen 陈伊如

Yiru Chen is a film director, artist, and poet. Her goal is to promote education and art of sign languages – an essential key to Deaf culture, along with members of both communities.

12 Nov, 2020 10:00 am

to 19 Nov, 2020 11:59 pm

BUY TICKET
BUY STUDENT • SENIOR • ARTS WORKER • UN(DER)WAGED TICKETS

Margo

Canada201914 minEnglishDrama, Family, Women Filmmakers

Rated PG-13
CW: Sexual harassment

A newcomer to the film industry, Margo’s careful and cautious actions make clear the insidious traces of misogyny that permeate through.

Cast

Maya Wong
Anthony Caputo
Logan Freeman
Sam
Emily Bolanos

Director Bio

Steffi Tupe

Steffi Tupe is a first-generation Filipino-Canadian writer, director and producer with three dramatic short films under her belt Two Ladies, Sister and Margo.

12 Nov, 2020 10:00 am

to 19 Nov, 2020 11:59 pm

BUY TICKET
BUY STUDENT • SENIOR • ARTS WORKER • UN(DER)WAGED TICKETS

Novena

Canada20202 minEnglish with English SubtitlesInternational Premiere Animation, Family, Open Captions, Women Filmmakers

Rated PG

Created by a community of local Filipinx creatives, Novena is an affectingly crafted poetry animation touching upon grief, mourning, and healing.

Directors Bio

Shirley Camia

Born in Winnipeg, Shirley Camia is a Filipina-Canadian poet who has lived across Canada, the Philippines, Japan and Kenya. Novena, based on her poem of the same name, is her debut poetry film.

12 Nov, 2020 10:00 am

to 19 Nov, 2020 11:59 pm

BUY TICKET
BUY STUDENT • SENIOR • ARTS WORKER • UN(DER)WAGED TICKETS
Open Tickets Cart