Preview: Korean Films at Reel Asian (2017)

I’m always excited for the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival (Reel Asian) as the festival consistently has a fabulous lineup of films. But this year I’m even more excited as ATK Magazine is a community partner for two films – the closing film, Stand Up Man, and Gook – at the 21st annual film festival that runs from November 9 – 18.

Unfortunately there are no feature films or documentaries this year from Korea but there are a host of shorts either from Korea or the Korean diaspora.

And there is a host of other interesting films from across Asia and the Asian diaspora so don’t forget to the check out Reel Asian’s entire list of films, docs and shorts. Plus there are several thought-provoking artist talks, panels and discussions to keep you engaged and learning new things. I know I’d like to attend several!

Keep reading to learn more about Stand Up Man, Gook and a snapshot of the shorts screening at Reel Asian. If you’re planning on watching Stand Up Man or Gook, don’t forget to use our discount code! And check back next week for a ticket giveaway (and our Facebook and Twitter)!

Courtesy of Reel Asian

Stand Up Man (Closing Night Film)

Aram Siu Wai Collier | Canada | 2017 | Rated 14A | 85:00 | English, Korean with English subtitles | Toronto Premiere

  • Friday November 17 @ 7:00 pm | Isabel Bader Theatre (93 Charles Street West)

Reel Asian’s synopsis of the film: Everything appears to be on track for aspiring comedian Moses Kim—he has landed a gig at a Toronto comedy club, he is marrying the woman of his dreams, and he can finally plan a life away from his parents. Unfortunately, Moses finds his dreams derailed when his parents give him the family sushi restaurant and he is forced to move back to his hometown of Windsor. Life gets more complicated when Moses’ teenage cousin from Korea unexpectedly shows up.

My Thoughts: As someone who donated to their fundraising campaign, I was lucky to see a special pre-screening of the film a while ago and it was funny, sweet, real and definitely worth watching. I’m looking forward to seeing it again!

In attendance:

  • Aram Siu Wai Collier (Director)
  • Daniel Jun
  • Rosalina Lee
  • Daniel Daegun Lee

For more info about the film, click here | To buy tickets, click here

Don’t forget that your ticket to the film includes the Closing Night Gala Reception!

Courtesy of Reel Asian

Gook

Justin Chon | USA | 2017 | Rated 14A | 94:00 | English, Korean with English subtitles | Toronto Premiere

  • Sunday November 12 @ 3:00 pm | TIFF Bell Lightbox, Cinema 2 (350 King Street West)

Reel Asian’s synopsis of the film: Eli and Daniel, two Korean American brothers, own a struggling shoe store and have an unlikely friendship with Kamilla, a street wise 11-year-old African American girl. Kamilla ditches school, Eli stresses about the store, and Daniel tries to have a good time. It’s just another typical day at the store until the Rodney King verdict is read and riots break out. With the chaos moving towards them, the trio is forced to defend the store while contemplating the future of their own personal dreams and the true meaning of family.

My Thoughts: I’ve been wanting to see this film since I first heard about it on social media and knowing that it won the audience award at Sundance just made me want to see it more. So happy that it’s come to Toronto.

For more info about the film, click here | To buy tickets, click here

Short Films from Korean filmmakers and the Korean diaspora

Food For Thought: Short Eats

| TIFF Bell Lightbox Cinema 2 | More info

Courtesy of Reel Asian

Glorious Victory
Will Kim | United States | 2:05 | no dialogue | Canadian Premiere

Glorious Victory is an animated short film about two beetles fighting over a fig, which leads both of the beetles to complete disaster. [synopsis courtesy of Reel Asian]

Intimate Labours

| TIFF Bell Lightbox Cinema 3 | More info

Courtesy of Reel Asian

18 Miles
Eui Yong Zong (in attendance) and Inga Dievulyte (in attendance) | Canada | 2017 | 11:00 | Chinese with English subtitles | World Premiere

The camera follows Yu Xukang, a 40-year-old father in rural China, who must travel 18 miles on foot every day to ensure his disabled son Qiang gets the chance to attend school. [synopsis courtesy of Reel Asian]

Courtesy of Reel Asian

Don’t Cry
Alice Kim (in attendance) | Canada | 2017 | 11:00 | English and Korean with English subtitles | World Premiere

Gina helps her mother Mi-Kyoung at her dry cleaning business in downtown Toronto. After she witnesses Mi-Kyoung being sexually assaulted by a customer, Gina struggles to come to terms with the incident, and discovers her mother’s quiet strength. [synopsis courtesy of Reel Asian]

Courtesy of Reel Asian

My Turn
Nakyung Kim | South Korea | 2017 | 15:30 | Korean with English subtitles | World Premiere

In contemporary urban South Korea, many working women planning to have babies must time their conception to an organizational pregnancy turn system. But what happens when Nurse Hyun-jung gets pregnant ‘out of turn’? [synopsis courtesy of Reel Asian]

Field of Touch

| TIFF Bell Lightbox Cinema 3 | More info

Courtesy of Reel Asian

The Boy is With Us
Heewon Yoon | South Korea | 2017 | 24:28 | Korean with English subtitles | Toronto Premiere

A year after his sudden disappearance, Seohee and Joonho’s son Youngmin returns home. Soon, Seohee begins to notice changes in Youngmin’s behavior and starts to question whether this boy really is her son. [synopsis courtesy of Reel Asian]

Courtesy of Reel Asian

The Mudfish
Jun Yong Kim | South Korea | 2017 | 18:38 | Korean with English subtitles | World Premiere

Jinsuk and Sungkyu, two teenage students, are regularly physically bullied by local goon Kyoungjin’s gang in a small, dilapidated town. Their friendship is tested when Jinsuk betrays Sungkyu to gain entry into the clique. [synopsis courtesy of Reel Asian]

The Hand That Feeds

| Bachir / Yerex Presentation Space | More info

Courtesy of Reel Asian

Madness
TJ Choi | USA | 2017 | 11:00 | Korean with English subtitles | Canadian Premiere

Eun Ju, a housewife living in wealthy Orange County, California, feels stifled by her suburban lifestyle. After her son misbehaves in the presence of her Sunday church group, she decides to confront her own suppressed loneliness and discontent. [synopsis courtesy of Reel Asian]

Final Thoughts

While there are no feature films from Korea this year, the above films and shorts are just the tip of the film fun available. Reel Asian has an interesting lineup of films that you’ll want to check out. Of course, if you want to go see Stand Up Man and/or Gook, use our discount code (“toothpaste”) to get a 15% discount. And check our Facebook and Twitter over the weekend for some ticket giveaways to both films!

Of course you’ll want to stay up-to-date on all the films and fun so be sure to check out their website and social media. They’re pretty active on both Facebook and Twitter so click ‘follow’ now to stay in the know.

We hope to see you there! Tickets are on sale now!

Editor’s Note: The film synopses are all courtesy of Reel Asian.

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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