Preview: Korean Films at the 2012 Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival

Courtesy of Reel Asian

Hello my lovely readers, I have some exciting news about the Korean films you can look forward to seeing at the 16th annual Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival (Reel Asian). But first, let me tell you a little about Reel Asian.

As you might have guessed from the “16th annual” reference, Reel Asian has been around since 1997 and it’s grown from a 3-day event to a 10-day multi-city festival. I love how it not only showcases some of the best and most interesting films from Asia but also features shorts and films from Canadians of Asian heritage. In addition to the Korean films I’ll be taking about in a moment, Reel Asian will screen “60 films and videos from 14 countries including Canada, China, France, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Kashmir, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand and the United States.” That’s amazing! Truly, if you like film, this is one festival you don’t want to miss.

So what Korean films are there?

Courtesy of Reel Asian

STATELESS THINGS 줄탁동시 (Feature Presentation)

  • Where/When: Innis Town Hall on Wed. Nov. 7th at 9:15pm
  • Director: Kim Kyung-mook 김경묵 (Director in attendance)

I’ve been looking forward to this film since I first heard of it earlier this year as the premise, while dark, intrigues me. What’s it about? A North Korean refugee who works in a gas station and young gay man who has a sugar daddy lead different lives but meet unexpectedly when their respective worlds come crashing down. It stars Paul Lee 이바울 (as Joon), Yeom Hyun-Joon 염현준 (as Hyun), Kim Sae-Byeok 김새벽 (as Soon-Hee) and Lim Hyung-Guk 임형국 (as Sung-Hoon)

Courtesy of Reel Asian

A FISH 물고기 (3D Feature Presentation)

  • Where/When: The Royal on Sat. Nov. 10 at 11:45am
  • Director: Park Hong Min (Director in attendance)

I’m so excited! This is Reel Asian’s first 3D film presentation and from reading other reviews and information on the reasons behind the 3D, I’m super intrigued. What’s it about? A professor finds out that his wife has become a possessed shaman and goes to find her. During his journey he realizes that there is more than meets the eye. In addition to the story of the professor and his shaman wife, two fisherman find a talking fish. Hm… interesting! It stars Lee Jang-Hoon 이장훈, Kim Sun-Bin 김선빈 and Choi So-Eun 최소은.

Courtesy of Reel Asian

ARCHITECTURE 101 건축학개론 (Closing Night Gala)

  • Where/When: The Royal on Sun. Nov. 11 at 8:15pm
  • Director: Lee Yong Joo (Director in Attendance)

The Closing Night Gala of the Toronto portion of Reel Asian is a Korean box office hit that just looks so sweet. Okay, I’m a sucker for romance and stories about lost love but this film sounds perfect. What’s it about? A woman finds her first love whom she met in architecture school and asks him to fulfill a promise he made to her then. Staring Han Ga-In 한가인, Uhm Tae-Woong 엄태웅, Lee Je-hoon 이제훈 and Bae Suzy 배수지.

But that’s not all…

In addition to the three Korean films available, I would also recommend the Shorts Presentation screenings. I know a couple of the shorts that are being screened and I can whole-heartedly say to go see them. Here is the information on the different Shorts Presentation nights. (The following descriptions for the Shorts Presentations are courtesy of Reel Asian.)

ONCE LOST, NOW FOUND (Shorts Presentation)

  • Innis Town Hall on Wed Nov 7 at 7:15pm

Presenting meditations on memory and loss, connection, and pure joy, these films address some of the most powerful yet peripheral facets of human experience with quiet restraint and creative narratives. Including work by Keith Lock, Quek Shio Chuan, Christopher Makoto Yogi, Han Han Li and Kimi Takesue.

IT’S NOT WHAT YOU THINK (Youth Shorts Presentation)

  • AGO Jackman Hall on Thu Nov 8 at 1:00pm

Amateur Sumo wrestling, street dancing friends, a felt turtle and copious cats remind us that stories of the unexpected are everywhere. Including work by Patrick Ng, Alisi Telengut, Stephanie Law, Jessica Wu, Vivienne AuYeung, Xiao Yang and Greg Masuda.

UNSUNG VOICES (Shorts Presentation)

  • AGO Jackman Hall on Thu Nov 8 at 6:00pm

Reel Asian proudly presents our inaugural Summer Youth Video Production Workshop, which launched this past summer with a merry band of intrepid youth who possessed little to no formal filmmaking experience, but had great stories to tell.

ESCAPE OR REALITY (Youth Shorts Presentation)

  • AGO Jackman Hall on Fri Nov 9 at 1:00pm

Want to get away? You may or may not find what you’re looking for. These stories show us the potential and pitfalls of escaping from life’s impositions. Including work by Jack Shih, Leslie Supnet, Jeff Tran, Louis Yeum, Kim Young-sam, Eri Asai and Mina Son.

HARD LOOK (Shorts Presentation)

  • The Royal on Sun Nov 11 at 3:00pm

From the full frontal stare of an unbatting, mascara-laced eye to the dispassionate gaze of a child who has seen it all, these films consider fallen heroes and arrested dreams.  Including work by Nobu Adilman, Eui Yong Zong, Hayoun Kwon, Wesley Cho, Lou Nakasako, Victoria Molina de Carranza and Jahel José Guerra Roa.

Just the facts

  • What: 16th annual Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival (which most people simply call “Reel Asian”)
  • When: November 6-11 in Toronto and November 16-17 in Richmond Hill
  • Where: various locations
    • Isabel Bader Theatre (93 Charles St. W., Toronto)
    • TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King St. W., Toronto)
    • Innis Town Hall (2 Sussex Ave., at St. George, Toronto)
    • AGO Jackman Hall (317 Dundas St. W., Toronto)
    • The Royal (608 College St., Toronto)
    • University’s College, U of T (15 King’s College Circle, Toronto)
    • No One Writes to the Colonel (460 College St., Toronto)
    • Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts (10268 Yonge St., Richmond Hill)
  • Why: Great films, of course!
  • Tickets:
    • Regular & Youth Screenings:                                 $12   $10*
    • Opening Night Gala (incl. party):                          $20   $15*
    • Closing Night Gala (incl. party):                             $15   $12*
    • Centrepiece Presentation:                                       $15    $12*
    • Festival Pass:                                                            $80   $65*
    • Industry Series Pass:                                                $40   $36*
    • 4-Pack (no galas/Centrepiece, in advance only)    $36   $30*
    • *Discounts for students (with ID), seniors, bulk buys (for more information, please refer to Reel Asian’s website
  • Social Media:

I’ve just focused on the Korean films and shorts but there is something for everyone. Other films that caught my eye include: Prison Dancer, Seeking Asian Female, and Cold Steel. I can’t wait! Hope to see you all there. ^^

Cindy Zimmer

Live life to the fullest everyday - this is a the philosophy I try to live by and it's taken me on many adventures. I write about Korean culture from a non-Korean perspective as the editor/founder of ATK Magazine and I'm the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Toronto Korean Film Festival (TKFF). Previously, I ran a Korean-English language exchange group (in Toronto) for 3 years to stay connected to my three years living in Korea as an English teacher. I love music, film, food and sports and write about 3 of the 4.

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