Test The Fest!

Canada20201:00EnglishCanadian Premiere

Wondering if your system can handle our digital viewing portal? Unsure of how our ticketing system works? We recognize that the switch to new technology can make you feel uneasy with the unfamiliarity. That's why we've made this quick-and-easy test screening exercise for you to see how our ticketing (powered by Elevent) works and how you can access the viewing portal (powered by CineSend).

Click on the red BUY TICKET button to the right. A new window, powered by Elevent, will pop up over the site. Follow the on-screen directions.

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Don’t worry, you won’t be charged – tickets to this Test The Fest exercise are free!

When you finish checking out of your shopping cart, Elevent will take you to this screen:

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Because this screening is available right now, there is a blue “View” button. This is what will happen when you buy tickets to a screening after the festival has begun. → SKIP TO STEP 5

If you are buying in advance, you will see an indication of when the screening will be available instead of a “View” button. → GO TO STEP 3

Okay, so let’s imagine you bought a ticket in advance. You’ve checked out and gotten Elevent’s “Order Complete” screen with no view button, but an indication of when your screening will become available. For most titles, screenings become available at 10:00 AM on Thursday, November 12, 2020. (The exception is the opening night film, Down A Dark Stairwell, which only becomes available at 7:00 PM on November 12).

At 9:00 AM on Thursday, November 12, 2020 – an hour before the films become available, you will receive a “Virtual Access” email from Elevent in your inbox. Look for the words “Virtual Access” in the subject header:

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You will receive a separate email for every film you buy access to. Since they all become available at the same time, you will get multiple emails at the same time.

When you open the virtual access email, you will see a big blue button in the center of the page:

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Click on the link to be taken to our viewing portal, powered by CineSend.

You will be taken to Reel Asian’s viewing portal, powered by CineSend. The link takes you right to the film’s play page:

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Click the play button, sit back, relax, and enjoy the screening!

3 Nov, 2020 10:00 am

to 19 Nov, 2020 11:59 pm




Service Providers

Festival Launch Party

240 minEnglish

We're kicking off ReelAsian24 with a bang! 🎉 Party with us (digitally of course) on Nov 6 at 9PM (EST) for our Zoom Festival Launch Party and fundraiser hosted in partnership with ISO Radio, New Ho Queen x Hot Pot Community, Ricecake, and Bubble_T.

The night is jam packed with some of the best from coast to coast with DJ sets from Toronto faves Paul Chin, Roshanie, Discography x Lazy Suzn x Kai, and a drag performance from Ms. Nookie Galore. From the House of Rice in Vancouver, Bella will be DJing with performances by Maiden China, Kara Juku, Skim, and House Mother Shay Dior. Last but not least the imitable West Dakota joins us all the way from NYC!

6 Nov, 2020 9:00 pm

to 7 Nov, 2020 12:10 am

Free event.

Hosted in partnership with

Awards Ceremony

35 minEnglish

Each year, Reel Asian celebrates Asian talent with awards for features and short films. Juried by distinguished creatives, filmmakers and industry professionals, these awards speak to the brilliant talent within our communities and the meaningful impact these stories leave with our audiences. This year, you're invited to join co-hosts Lainey Lui and Angela Sun as they reveal the award winners for the 24th Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival. So, get your drinks ready and tune in for appointment-viewing to find out who the award winners are for this edition!


Lainey Lui

Co-host of CTV’s THE SOCIAL, ETALK anchor, and scribe of the immensely popular celebrity gossip blog, LaineyGossip.com, Lainey Lui does what she does for one reason – to provide a gossip education to the Canadian public. Lui is regularly called upon as a celebrity expert by media outlets worldwide and has covered The Oscars, The Golden Globes, The Olympics, and Royal weddings.

Angela Sun

Angela Sun is a mad, fat, first generation/ settler theatre performer, creator, producer, arts administrator, and writer of Chinese descent. She has previously performed in or co-created works for Koffler.Digital (Koffler Centre of the Arts), The Bentway, the Gardiner Museum, and the Art Gallery of Ontario; as well as the Toronto Fringe Festival, the Hamilton Fringe Festival, SummerWorks Performance Festival, Paprika Festival, and the InspiraTO Festival.

13 Nov, 2020 4:00 pm

Free event with open captions.

Awards & Eligibility

Osler Best Feature Film Award

All feature works are eligible for this prize. $,1500 cash prize.

CineSend Best First Feature Award

All first feature films are eligible for this prize. $1,000 cash prize.

The Truth to Power Award

All documentary films are eligible for this $1,250 cash prize, donated by Karla Bobadilla, Diang Iu, Immanuel Lanzaderas, Sonia Sakamoto-Jog and Victoria Shen.

Change Connect Award

All films made by 30 & under artists are eligible for this prize. $500 cash prize.

National Film Board of Canada Best Canadian Short Film Award (Emerging)

All short works made by emerging Canadian artist (with credits fewer than 4 films) are eligible for this prize of post-production services, $5,000 value.

Air Canada Short Film or Video Award

All short films and videos are eligible for this prize. Opportunity to broadcast on Air Canada’s in-flight entertainment screens on international flights.

Animasian Award

All animated works are eligible for this prize. $600 cash prize.

WIFT Toronto Film Award

All films made by female-identified Ontario-based artists are eligible for this prize. $500 in programming gift certificates and one-year membership to WIFT Toronto.

Features Jury Committee

Carrianne Leung

Carrianne Leung is a fiction writer and educator. Her debut novel, The Wondrous Woo was shortlisted for the 2014 Toronto Book Awards. Her collection stories, That Time I Loved You was named one of CBC’s Best Books of 2018.She is currently working on a new novel, titled The After.

Melissa Bisagni

Melissa Bisagni is the Media Initiatives Program Manager at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), in Washington, DC. She was previously the Director of Programming for the DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival where she is a senior advisor. 

Danis Goulet

Danis Goulet is a writer and director. Her films have screened at Berlin, Sundance and the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). She is a former programmer for TIFF and a former director of the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival. Her debut feature NIGHT RAIDERS is currently in post production.

*All decisions made by the juries are final and binding and not subject to appeal.

Shorts Jury Committee

Mandeq Hassan

Mandeq Hassan has spent years working extensively in the film industry. Hassan has been a key member of the Toronto-based distribution company Sisterhood Media and her credits include popular works Gay Mean Girls and The Regent Park Project. She received the 2019 Director’s Guild of Canada New Visions Award.

Ammar Keshodia

Ammar Keshodia is a filmmaker and curator. He has worked on the programming teams for festivals such as TIFF, SXSW, and Overlook. In 2019, he served as the Lead Programmer at Reelworld Film Festival. He has written for publications such as Bright Wall/Dark Room, NANG Magazine, and Peephole Journal.

Fransiska Prihadi

Fransiska Prihadi is an architect, co-founder of art-house cinema MASH Denpasar and has been the program director of Minikino Film Week, Bali International Short Film Festival since 2015. She is now working on her research thesis about international short film festivals for her Master of Tourism Studies at Udayana University.

Down a Dark Stairwell: Opening Night Screening and Live Panel

USA202083 minEnglish, Cantonese, Mandarin with English SubtitlesDocumentary, Reel Asian Award Winner, Women Filmmakers


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


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

Best Documentary, Ashland Independent Film Festival 2020
The Truth to Power Award, Reel Asian 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

Content warning: Events surrounding killing by police

Live Panel Discussion, November 12 at 8:45PM
Contact Active Listener (November 12, 8:30-11:30PM)


With Support From

ASL Interpretation provided at live panel by
Toronto Sign Language Interpreter Service

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.

Click here to contact the Active Listener. Contact and communication is confidential.

November 12, 2020 at 9 PM

Nataleah Hunter-Young, Writer and Film Curator

Nataleah Hunter-Young is a writer, film curator, and PhD candidate researching Black aesthetic practice and representations of mediated police brutality in contemporary art. She has supported festival programming for TIFF, Hot Docs, and the Durban International Film Festival in South Africa.

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 of 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, Co-writer and Editor of 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, Co-writer and Editor of 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

Extra Resources

This is a non-exhaustive community resource list to complement the discussion around Down a Dark Stairwell (2020).


This short resource guide makes clear the importance of human engagement with the politics of living in the world around us. As a pan-Asian-centered festival, we have human relations with the world around us behind the screen and view our programming as an important public-facing conversation that moves us towards deep thinking and the work of repair.



News Articles:

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6 Nov. 9:00 pm - 7 Nov. 12:10 am

Canadian Spotlight
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1 Nov. 12:00 am - 19 Nov. 11:59 pm

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

Scarborough: Live Script Read and Artist Talk

Canada2020120 minEnglishDrama, Family, Women Filmmakers

Reel Asian is proud to present as its Closing Night event a live script read presentation of Scarborough, the anticipated forthcoming film by Reel Asian stalwart filmmaking duo of Shasha Nakhai and Rich Williamson. The film, an adaptation of Catherine Hernandez’ award-winning novel of the same name, follows three kids in a low-income neighbourhood who find community, compassion, and resilience at a drop-in literacy centre over the course of a school year.

Having just wrapped shooting this summer and looking ahead to a 2021 premiere, we take pause to provide audiences an opportunity to see a sneak preview of select scenes acted out live by members of the cast. The script read will be followed by an intimate discussion about the themes and creative process of bringing this heralded book to life on screen by this trio of celebrated Toronto artists. 

19 Nov, 2020 7:00 pm

to 9:00 pm


Lead Sponsor

Special Sponsor

ASL Interpretation provided at live script read by
Toronto Sign Language Interpreter Service

Featuring the cast of Scarborough

Liam Diaz
Cast as Bing

Liam Diaz is excited to be making his on-screen debut in his first movie role as Bing in Scarborough. He is an avid performer, and loves singing, dancing, and acting. He also enjoys expressing his artistic side through SFX makeup which he uses on his free time. His favourite stage role to date was playing the role of “young P.T Barnum” from the musical film, The Greatest Showman during the JDL Performing Arts summer showcase.

Ellie Posadas
Cast as Edna

Ellie Posadas is a Filipina-Canadian, Actor, Singer-Songwriter, and Creator from Toronto. She is a member of the award winning comedy group ‘Tita Collective’. Ellie is an alumni of Randolph Academy’s Musical Theatre program. She was featured in the 34th Torino Film Festival Official Selection, Wexford Plaza (CAAMfest, Slamdance) and is also featured in the short film The Morning After (Toronto Inside OUT Festival, Los Angeles OUT fest). Other selected Theatre/Film credits include: Baby Blue Canoe (Wattpad productions), Tita Jokes (Tita Collective), The Penelopiad (Hart House), Emily & EV (Nöta Collective), Silenced (HERstory Counts), and Avenue Q (LOT).

Cherish Violet Blood
Cast as Marie

Cherish Violet Blood is an actor, storyteller, activist and Blackfoot woman hailing from the Blood reserve. Based in Toronto, Cherish is a professionally trained and seasoned performer with active followings in the national Indigenous and international theatre community. Cherish  has performed all over North America. Select credits include creator/performer in Material Witness (Spiderwoman Theatre La Mama,NYC), creator/performer in Making Treaty 7 directed by Michelle Thrush in Calgary, AB. The lead role in Deer Woman, a new play that has been touring internationally by Tara Beagan . As a natural comedian Cherish has hosted album release parties as well as community events and fundraisers.

Aliya Kanani
Cast as Ms. Hina

Aliya Kanani is a Toronto-based artist and creator, who has worn many hats, including those of comedian, actor, writer, director, producer and entertainer. She spent the better part of the last year touring internationally with her solo show, Where You From, From?, which sold out at the 2019 Just for Laughs Festival, 2019 Melbourne International Comedy Festival and 2020 World Fringe in Perth. In 2015, Aliya co-created, wrote and co-starred in the wacky sketch web series, Juicy. In addition, she has created, written, directed and produced various online sketches and short films, including It’s My Turn, and short doc, 36 Questions to Love, which she co-directed and co-produced.

Alexis Hancey
Cast as Fern

Alexis Hancey is a Toronto based actress & screenwriter, best known for her role as Narrator in a widely popular/CBC-covered performance of Threepenny Opera at Humber College. She stars as Susan in PG: Psycho Goreman, a feature described by Variety magazine as “blowing the roof off (drive ins) where there was no roof,” and is currently developing a web series in which she plays an HSP patient who wasn’t actually fixed by therapy.

Live online artist talk and Q&A with the team of Scarborough

Following the live script read, join moderator Amar Wala as he discusses the journey of bringing Scarborough to the big screen with directors Shasha Nakhai & Rich Williamson and writer Catherine Hernandez.

ASL interpretation will be made available thanks to Toronto Sign Language Interpreter Services. Ticket holders can watch on the CineSend Reel Asian portal.

Shasha Nakhai
Director and Producer, Scarborough

Shasha Nakhai is a filmmaker from Toronto whose work has aired on the BBC, CBC, ZDF, and Arte; screened at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA); been nominated for 3 Canadian Screen Awards; and shortlisted for an Oscar. She recently released her first feature documentary, Take Light, which enters the tangled web of Nigeria’s energy crisis.

Rich Williamson
Director, Scarborough

Rich Williamson is an Oscar-shortlisted filmmaker from Toronto. His award-winning films have screened at festivals worldwide, aired on TV, been released on iTunes, gone viral, and featured on the BBC, CBC, Bravo, Arte, ZDF, Al Jazeera, Short of the Week, The Hollywood Reporter, AV Club, Slashfilm, Screenrant, Gizmodo, Mashable, Collider and Nerdist.

Catherine Hernandez
Writer, Scarborough

Catherine Hernandez is the award-winning author of Scarborough and its screenplay adaptation, and the outgoing artistic director of b current performing arts. She has written the critically acclaimed plays Singkil, The Femme Playlist and Eating with Lola and the children’s books M Is for Mustache: A Pride ABC Book and I Promise. Her second novel, Crosshairs, was published in September 2020.

Amar Wala

Using his cinema to deconstruct notions of race and identity, Amar Wala has directed series for CBC, Viceland, and Shopify Studios. He directed the feature documentary The Secret Trial 5 and is currently director and consulting producer of CBC Arts series In The Making.

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