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Reel Asian Film Festival 2012

31 Oct 2012

REEL ASIAN (Toronto) Film Festival begins on November the 6th.  Below gives all the information you might need to know.

Capsule reviews for a few of the films screened are provided at the end of the article.

If you really need more detailed information, you can alo visit the festival website at:

http://www.reelasian.com/

The Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival (Reel Asian) will celebrate its 16th annual edition this year with more screenings, international guests and special events as it continues its expansion outside the downtown Toronto core to bring Richmond Hill residents a taste of the best in Asian cinema.

Founded in 1997, Reel Asian began as a 3-day event established in response to meet the needs of an existing demand for Asian films in Toronto, and has since grown to a 10-day multi-city annual event attracting over 10,000 people. Reel Asian strives to develop programming that reflects the cultural diversity of Canada and increase public understanding and appreciation of the artistic, social and cultural contributions of those of Asian heritage through film. This year’s festival will take place November 6-11 in Toronto and November 16-17 in Richmond Hill to present 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.

Highlights include:

GALAS & CENTREPIECE:

  • TORONTO OPENING NIGHT GALA: FIRST TIME (China/Hong Kong 2012, Canadian Premiere, director Han Yan in attendance)
  • CENTREPIECE PRESENTATION: PRISON DANCER (Canada 2012, Canadian Premiere, director Romeo Candido, producer Ana Serrano and cast in attendance)
  • TORONTO CLOSING NIGHT GALA: ARCHITECTURE 101 (South Korea 2012, Canadian Premiere, director Lee Yong-joo in attendance)

INTERNATIONAL FEATURES: a selection of award-winning and noteworthy films including

  • China – EGG AND STONE by Huang Ji, winner of Tiger Award at International Film Festival Rotterdam 2012  
  • Kashmir/USA – VALLEY OF SAINTS by Musa Syeed, winner of Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Feature Film Prize and World Cinema Audience Award at Sundance Film Festival 2012  
  • China/Taiwan  – HOMETOWN BOY by Yao Hung-I, winner of Best Documentary 2012 at Taipei Golden Horse Award 2011 and Grand Prize for Best Director and Best Documentary at Taipei Film Festival
  • Indonesia – THE MIRROR NEVER LIES by Kamila Andini, winner of Earth Grand Pris at Tokyo International Film Festival 2011 and FIPRESCI Prize at Hong Kong International Film Festival 2012  
  • Taiwan – CHA CHA FOR TWINS by Yang Yi-Chien, winner of Best Narrative Feature and Best Screenplay at Taipei Film Festival 2012  
  • Japan – THE WOODSMAN AND THE RAIN by Shuichi Okita, winner of Special Jury Price at Tokyo International Film Festival 2011  

CANADIAN PROGRAMMING:

  • Canadian Premiere of PRISON DANCER (Canada 2012, director Romeo Candido, producer Ana Serrano and cast in attendance)
  • Toronto Premiere of THE FRUIT HUNTERS (Canada 2012, director Yung Chang, quest in attendance)
  • North American Premiere of DAL PURI DIASPORA (Canada 2012, director Richard Fung in attendance)
  • Canadian Spotlight on MICHAEL FUKUSHIMA: THE ART OF PRODUCING ART (Producer/Director Michael Fukushima in attendance)
  • Canadian shorts are included in: ONCE LOST, NOW FOUND, IT’S NOT WHAT YOU THINK, ESCAPE OF REALITY, HARD LOOK and UNSUNG HEROES (Various filmmakers in attendance)

SPECIAL GALLERY EXHIBITIONS: COLLECTOR(S) and AUTUMN COLOURS AFTER ZHAO MENGFU

Continuing to engage with pan-Asian experimental installations, Reel Asian presents two exciting off-screen projects, each with a unique focus on video art.  Hosted at TPW R&D, Innis College, East Gallery and the Monarch Festival Hub.

 

PITCH COMPETITION

Reel Asian''s 7th Annual Pitch Competition - So You Think You Can Pitch? - is back for 2012. A collaboration between Reel Asian and Charles Street Video (CSV), this competition features prizes worth a combined value of more than $35,000. Teams of filmmakers will have six minutes each to pitch their projects to vie for $2,000 in cash; a brand new Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1; $10,000 (emerging category) and $18,000 (professional category) worth of production, post services and artist’s fees at CSV.

REEL ASIAN HEADS TO RICHMOND HILL

As part of our continuing initiative to reach new audiences beyond the downtown core, Reel Asian returns to the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts for its 2nd Annual Richmond Hill weekend film festival. We will be opening with the Canadian premiere of Floating City with Hong Kong veteran director Yim Ho in attendance and closing the uptown festival with Yung Chang’s highly anticipated documentary The Fruit Hunters.

SCHEDULE AT A GLANCE (chronologically by date)

 

TORONTO

Opening Night Gala | Tue Nov 6, 7:00 PM | Isabel Bader Theatre 

FIRST TIME

Director Han Yan | China/Hong Kong 2012 | 106:00 | Canadian Premiere | Director in attendance

Yearning to experience all the firsts of a young girl in love, terminally ill Shiqiao records her memories on a cassette tape when a high school crush reappears in her world. Starring two of Asia’s rising young stars Mark Chao and Angelababy.

Canadian Spotlight | Wed Nov 7, 5:30 PM | Innis Town Hall

MICHAEL FUKUSHIMA: THE ART OF PRODUCING ART

Award-winning producer Michael Fukushima investigates the role of creativity and demystifies the producing process. Fukushima and several directors will be in attendance to address topics unique to creative producing such as risk taking, building creative teams and the vagaries of success.

TIFF Cinematheque’s Free Screen | Wed Nov 7, 7:00 PM | TIFF Bell Lightbox

IT MAY BE THAT BEAUTY HAS STRENGTHENED OUR RESOLVE: MASAO ADACHI

Director Philippe Grandrieux | France 2011 | 73:00 | Toronto Premiere

Focusing on one of Japan’s most revolutionary film directors, Grandrieux’s portrait finds Masao Adachi in Tokyo and unfolds as a conversation about revolution, desire and cinema. Co-presented by Reel Asian & TIFF.

Shorts Presentation | Wed Nov 7, 7:15 PM | Innis Town Hall

ONCE LOST, NOW FOUND

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.

Feature Presentation | Wed Nov 7, 9:15 PM | Innis Town Hall

STATELESS THINGS

Director Kim Kyung-mook | South Korea 2011 | 115:00 | Toronto Premiere | Director in attendance

A North Korean migrant worker and young gay man are trapped by their social status, both physically and psychologically in the heartless megacity of Seoul in this dark and dreamy film by internationally acclaimed indie director Kim Kyung-mook.

Youth Shorts Presentation | Thu Nov 8, 1:00 PM | AGO Jackman Hall

IT’S NOT WHAT YOU THINK

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.

Feature Presentation | Thu Nov 8, 5:40 PM | Innis Town Hall

DAYLIGHT SAVINGS

Director Dave Boyle | USA 2012 | 73:00 | Toronto Premiere | Director and Actor in attendance

This charming romantic follow up to last year’s Surrogate Valentine finds singer songwriter Goh Nakamura on the wrong side of love again. While nursing a broken heart, a Vegas roadtrip yields unexpected results.

Shorts Presentation | Thu Nov 8, 6:00 PM | AGO Jackman Hall

UNSUNG VOICES

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.

Feature Presentation | Thu Nov 8, 7:40 PM | Innis Town Hall

EGG AND STONE

Director Huang Ji | China 2012 | 100:00 | Toronto Premiere | Director in attendance

Shot in Director Huang Ji’s hometown in Hunan, this quietly disturbing autobiographical and award-winning debut feature uncovers the taboo subject of family abuse through the eyes of 14-year-old Honggui.

Feature Presentation | Thu Nov 8, 8:00 PM | AGO Jackman Hall

LUNG NEAW VISITS HIS NEIGHBOURS

Director Rirkrit Tiravanija | Mexico/Thailand 2011 | 154:00 | Canadian Premiere

The first feature film from acclaimed visual artist Rirkrit Tiravanija is an exquisitely photographed, minimalist “portraiture” of retired rice farmer Lung Neaw; a quiet and boyish man who spends his idle days conversing with neighbors, doing odd jobs and walking through the jungle.

Feature Presentation | Thu Nov 8, 9:55 PM | Innis Town Hall

GRACELAND 

Director Ron Morales | USA/Philippines 2012 | 84:00 | Toronto Premiere | Director in attendance

The driver for a corrupt politician gets embroiled in a botched kidnapping and must traverse the seedy underbelly of  Manila to save his daughter in this gritty noir.

Youth Shorts Presentation | Fri Nov 9, 1:00 PM | AGO Jackman Hall

ESCAPE OR REALITY

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.

Centrepiece Presentation | Fri Nov 9, 6:45 PM | The Royal

PRISON DANCER

Director Romeo Candido | Canada 2012 | 60:00 | Canadian Premiere | Director, Crew and Cast in attendance

Inspired by the real-life dancing rehabilitation program that went viral on YouTube, Prison Dancer tells the personal, poignant, and hilarious stories of six Filipino prison dancers whose group dancing turned a maximum-security prison into a world stage. This unique presentation will integrate on-screen projection and live performance from the cast.

Feature Presentation | Fri Nov 9, 7:00 PM | AGO Jackman Hall

PEOPLE’S PARK

Directors Libbie D. Cohn, J.P. Sniadecki | USA/China 2012 | 78:00 | Canadian Premiere | Directors in attendance

This dynamic single shot documentary is a visual and aural adventure that glides through a public space in Chengdu, China revealing waltzing couples, karaoke singers and curious onlookers.

Special Presentation | Fri Nov 9, 8:45 PM | The Royal

VALLEY OF SAINTS 

Director Musa Sayeed | USA/Kashmir | 82:00 | Toronto Premiere | Director in attendance

Upon the beautiful but troubled Dal Lake in Kashmir, a young boatman’s world is opened up by a visiting scientist in this lyrical drama about friendship, family and home.  Winner of two Sundance awards.

Feature Presentation | Fri Nov 9, 9:00 PM | AGO Jackman Hall

HOMETOWN BOY

Director Yao Hung-yi | China/Taiwan 2011 | 72:00 | Canadian Premiere

Famous Chinese artist Liu Xiaodong returns home after 30 years to paint portraits of his boyhood friends while discovering the passage of time and economic developments that have altered the character of his rural hometown. Produced by iconic Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao-hsien.

Feature Presentation | Fri Nov 9, 11:00 PM | The Royal

TATSUMI

Director Eric Khoo | Singapore 2011 | 98:00 | Toronto Premiere

The fascinating life and sinister stories of legendary manga artist Yoshihiro Tatsumi are brought to life on the big screen in this animated biography about the man who pioneered gekiga, a genre of dark adult-themed comics. Tatsumi premiered at Cannes in 2011.

3D Feature Presentation | Sat Nov 10, 11:45 AM | The Royal

A FISH

Director Park Hong Min | South Korea 2011 | 100:00 | Toronto Premiere | Director in attendance

A professor traces rumours revealing his wife has become a possessed shaman in this mesmerizing exploration of the spirit world.  A Fish is Reel Asian’s first 3D film presentation.

Feature Presentation | Sat Nov 10, 2:15 PM | The Royal

THE MIRROR NEVER LIES

Director Kamila Andini | Indonesia 2011 | 100:00 | Toronto Premiere

Reaching beneath the mere beauty of the renowned Wakatobi region comes this award-winning coming-of-age story about the tenuous relationships between sea and community, mother and daughter, life and death.

Feature Presentation | Sat Nov 10, 4:30 PM | The Royal

DAL PURI DIASPORA

Director Richard Fung | Canada 2012 | 80:00 | Canadian Premiere | Director in attendance

Trinidad-born Toronto filmmaker Richard Fung takes an inquisitive food journey through the Caribbean and India to discover the mouth-watering roots of one of his (and Toronto’s) favourite foods, the dal puri, most commonly known as the roti.

Feature Presentation | Sat Nov 10, 6:30 PM | The Royal

JAKE SHIMABUKURO: LIFE ON FOUR STRINGS

Director Tadashi Nakamura | USA | 60:00 | Canadian Premiere | Director in attendance

Jake Shimabukuro plays the ukulele but not like anything ever seen or heard before in this rock documentary on the pioneering Hawaiian ukulele virtuoso who propelled this simple four-string instrument to dazzling heights. The screening includes a live performance produced by torontoUKES and the Corktown Uke Jam

Feature Presentation | Sat Nov 10, 8:15 PM | The Royal

WOLF CHILDREN

Director Mamoru Hosoda | Japan 2012 | 117:00 | Canadian Premiere

From director Mamoru Hosoda (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Summer Wars) comes his latest animated masterpiece about Hana, a young woman who falls in love with a werewolf and bears wolf children.

Feature Presentation | Sat Nov 10, 10:45 PM | The Royal

COLD STEEL

Director David Wu | China 2011 | 101:00 | Toronto Premiere | Director in attendance

Bullets fly, swords are drawn and enemies slashed in John Woo’s longtime collaborator David Wu’s historical film that recalls the energy and glory of classic 1980s Hong Kong action films. Starring Tony Leung Ka Fai.

Feature Presentation | Sun Nov 11, 1:00 PM | The Royal

SEEKING ASIAN FEMALE

Director Debbie Lum | USA 2012 | 85:00 | Toronto Premiere
Stephen is an aging white male with “yellow fever”. Sandy is the Chinese bride he met online.  See if their marriage can make it through the cultural barriers and battle of the sexes in this intimate and quirky personal documentary.

Shorts Presentation | Sun Nov 11, 3:00 PM | The Royal

HARD LOOK

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.

Omnibus Presentation | Sun Nov 11, 5:15 PM | The Royal

10+10

Taiwan 2011 | 115:00 | Toronto Premiere

Twenty of Taiwan’s top young and veteran directors each direct five-minute shorts to highlight the uniqueness of Taiwan.  The results are a panorama of Taiwanese society ranging from thriller to silent cinema to dark comedy. Including work by Hou Hsiao-hsien, Arvin Chen and Chang Tso-chi.

Closing Night Gala | Sun Nov 11, 8:15 PM | The Royal

ARCHITECTURE 101

Director Lee Yong Joo | Korea 2012 | 115:00 | Canadian Premiere | Director in Attendance

Han Ga-In, Uhm Tae-Woong and Bae Suzy star in this Korean box office hit about a woman who commissions her first love to build a new home in hopes to make good on a past promise.

RICHMOND HILL

Richmond Hill Opening | Fri Nov 16, 7:00 PM | Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts

FLOATING CITY

Director Yim Ho | Hong Kong 2012 | 104:00 | North American Premiere | Director in attendance

Directed by pioneering Hong Kong New Wave auteur Yim Ho, Floating City tells the true story of Bo Wah-Chuen (Aaron Kwok), as he rises from being an orphan on a Chinese fishing boat to the upper echelons of the notorious Imperial East India Trading Company.

Feature Presentation | Sat Nov 17, 1:30 PM | Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts

CHA CHA FOR TWINS

Directors Yang Yi-Chien, Jim Wang | Taiwan 2012 | 101:00 | Canadian Premiere

Writer and co-Director Yang Yi-Chien, herself a twin, reaches into the emotional side of relationships between twin siblings in this charming Taiwanese film for all ages. Winner of Best Narrative Feature and Best Screenplay at the Taipei Film Festival.

Feature Presentation | Sat Nov 17, 4:00 PM | Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts

THE WOODSMAN AND THE RAIN

Director Shuichi Okita | Japan 2011 | 127:00 | Canadian Premiere

Celebrated Japanese actor Koji Yakusho plays a lonely lumberjack whose life is drastically changed when he’s unwittingly enlisted into helping a spineless young filmmaker to complete his low budget zombie movie.

Richmond Hill Closing | Sat Nov 17, 7:00 PM | Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts

THE FRUIT HUNTERS

Director Yung Chang | Canada 2012 | 90:00 | Toronto Premiere | Guest in Attendance

Award-winning Canadian documentary filmmaker Yung Chang’s The Fruit Hunters is a globetrotting tour of faraway places, filled with eccentric people to whom fruit is a way of life and not just a suggested daily dietary recommendation.

INFORMATION:

SCREENING AND INDUSTRY SERIES VENUES

Isabel Bader Theatre, 93 Charles St. West

TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. West

Innis Town Hall, 2 Sussex Ave., at St. George

AGO Jackman Hall, 317 Dundas St. West

The Royal, 608 College St.

University’s College, 15 King’s College Circle (University of Toronto)

No One Writes to the Colonel, 460 College St.

Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts, 10268 Yonge St.

 

BEFORE THE FESTIVAL

  • Online sales begin October 9 through reelasian.com (powered by TicketWeb). Online sales continue during the festival (see below).
  • Walk-up sales begin at 12:00 PM on October 10 – November 3 through T.O. Tix at Yonge-Dundas Square (open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 12:00 PM-6:00 PM). For future-day tickets during the festival, see below.
  • Charge-by-phone: 1-888-222-6608 beginning 6:00 PM on October 9 until November 5. Phone sales continue during the festival (see below).
  • Group Sales available by calling 416-703-9333 between 10:00 AM and 6:00 PM on weekdays. No pre-arranged group sales during the festival. Last day for group sales is November 2.     
  • DURING THE FESTIVAL

Future Day Tickets

  • Online sales through reelasian.com until 11:55 PM on the day before the show.
  • Walk-up sales (cash only) at the Future-Day Sales Desk at each venue, starting one hour before the first show of the day at the following venues: Innis Town Hall, November 7 & 8; Jackman Hall, November 8; Royal Cinema, November 11 & 12 – this desk closes 20 minutes after start of the last show of the day. Jackman Hall only sells future-day tickets for shows screening at that venue.
  • Charge by phone: 1-888-222-6608 until the day before the show.

Same Day Tickets

  • Available one hour before the screening.
  • Walk-up sales at each venue (cash only). Same-day tickets are only sold for that venue’s shows.

 

BUYING SINGLE TICKETS FOR RICHMOND HILL

  • Online sales for single shows begin October 9 through reelasian.com (powered by TicketWeb) and/or through rhcentre.ca; online sales end at 11:55 PM the day before the show. Please note that tickets purchased online through TicketWeb will be available for pick-up only at the Reel Asian Box Office in the lobby of the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts (RHCPA) after 6:00 PM on November 16. Tickets purchased online through rhcentre.ca are available for pickup at the RHCPA Box Office 24 hours after purchase.
  • Walk-up sales begin at 10:00 AM on October 10 through the RHCPA Box Office (open Mondays through Saturdays 10:00 AM-6:00 PM) – last day for walk-up advance sales in Richmond Hill is November 15. No walk-up sales available at T.O. Tix.
  • During the Richmond Hill Festival (November 16-17), tickets for all shows may be purchased from the Reel Asian Box Office in the lobby of the RHCPA: 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM on November 16 and 12:30 PM – 7:30 PM on November 17.

 

BUYING SCREENING 4-PAKS FOR RICHMOND HILL

  • Online sales for Screening 4-Packs available exclusively through reelasian.com (powered by TicketWeb) from
    10:00 AM on October 9 until 11:55 PM on November 5. Screening 4-Packs purchased online through TicketWeb will be available for pick-up at the will-call desk during the Toronto festival or from the Reel Asian Box Office in the lobby of the RHCPA after 6:00 PM on November 16.
  • Walk-up sales available in Toronto: October 9-November 3 through T.O. Tix. No walk-up sales for Screening
    4-Packs available at the RHCPA Box Office.

TICKETS & PASSES: Regular Price    Discount Price*

Regular 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-Pak (no galas or centrepiece, in advance only)             $36                   $30

Richmond Hill Screenings                                              $12                   $10

*Discount applies to students (with valid current ID), seniors over 65 (no ID required), and volume sales (10 or more tickets to any one screening)

The Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Department of Canadian Heritage, Telefilm Canada, Celebrate Ontario, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Ontario Arts Council, the Toronto Arts Council, the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport and our festival major sponsors Rogers Communications Inc. and National Bank.

CAPSULE REVIEWS:

ARCHITECTURE 101 (South Korea 2012) ***

Directed by Lee Yong Joo

Like the opening might film FIRST TIME, ARCHITECTURE 101 is a film about first love, this time about a young couple who meet in their ARCHITECTURE 101 class.  They are asked to look around their neighborhood they live in as a class assignment and they discover one another.  But the boy’s love for her appears unreturned.  But years later, the woman returns to commission him, now an architect to build her a new house.  She hopes to rekindle his love but now as the tables are turned, her love seems lost.  Director Lee intercuts the action of the lovers, past and present so that the audience feels the past romance fresh.  One problem is that the woman comes across as somewhat of a ‘bitch’, demanding changes on the design of her house last minute, getting drunk in public, spoilt with nice clothes and wishing to rekindle a romance when the target is engaged to be married.  No prize awarded for guessing the outcome of this somewhat lazy feature that has some nice moments.  The unrequited love does come across the screen as real.

 

CHA CHA FOR TWINS (Taiwan 2012) ***

Directed by Yang Yi-Chien


Original teen romantic comedy done right here from Taiwan!  Bright, breezy, funny and affecting, CHA CHA FOR TWINS tells the story of twin sisters Poni, the elder and Mini (both played by Peijia Huang) who both play in the school’s basketball team.  They are in junior high school.  Poni loves Ping (Paul Chiang) who cannot tell the twins apart and sends gifts to Mini thinkng that there is only one of them.  In the meantime, Yogurt (Lun Ou Yang) has the hots for Mini who rebuffs his advances resulting in his dating Poni instead.  Though all the mismatches appear confusing at first, the story of twins trying to be individuals is a winning one.  It does not help that the parents want things identical for both (like attending the same college) to save on finances.  The message of one being true to oneself comes across effectively as each try to be different while still loving the other as a twin sister.  The film won an award for Best Narrative Feature and Best Screenplay at the Taipei Film Festival.

EGG AND STONE (China 2012) **
Directed by Ji Huang

EGG AND STONE is supposed to be a quietly disturbing autobiographical debut feature shot in director Ji Huang’s hometown in Hunan that uncovers the taboo subject of family abuse through the eyes of 14-year-old Honggui.· But one has to be extremely patient as Huang would spend minutes at a time with his stationary camera as a character dials and talks to the telephone or walks to get on a motorbike.· It is also difficult to piece the bits together to form a narrative.· If there is one thing more annoying than handheld camera it is stationary camera in which nothing apparently happens.· EGG AND STONE went on to win film awards.· But this reviewer does not get it nor has the patience to sit through a very, very slow film while trying to interpret what the director has on celluloid.· EGG AND STONE is both soft and hard which is supposed to represent the present China, as a character in the film says.· But the film is also as slow as eggs hatching or as monotonous as watching stones.

FIRST TIME (Hong Kong 2012) ***

Directed by Han Yan


The opening film of the Reel Asian Film Festival is a crowd pleaser about first love.  Note that the other film ARCHITECTURE 101 also deals with the topic of first love.  FIRST TIME tells the story of a young girl, terminally ill Shiqiao (Angelababy) who falls in love with her classmate (Mark Chao).  As her memory suffers, she records what she remembers on cassette.  When the boy disappears and appears again years later, she finds her mother interfering for fear that her weak health may be affected.  There are a few plot turns in the story, which will not be revealed in this review.  But don’t expect the obvious though it is not difficult to guess the plot twists.  This is a sweet little film with comedy and drama nicely blended together.  Two of Asia’s rising stars show the heartbreaks of first love it is the actress who portrays Shiqiao’s mother who steals the show.

TATSUMI (Singapore 2011) ****
Directed by Eric Khoo


There are two names that should be recognized before reading the capsule review of this amazingly captivating adult animated feature.  Firstly, the film is a based on the stories of Japanese living legend, manga pioneer and gekiga inventor Yoshiro Tatsumi, hailed by the New York Times as “one of Japan’s most important visual artists” with work translated into 17 languages.  Like his literary contemporaries, Tatsumi reflects, through the post-war tales, the major anxieties and alienation of regular people in fast-changing post-war Japan.   Secondly, TATSUMI is directed by Singapore’s Eric Khoo.  Khoo put Singapore on the film map with his first feature MEE POK MAN.  His second feature 24 STOREYS is the first Singaporean film to be screened at Cannes.  As Khoo lovingly strives to retain Tatsumi’s original work and mood, he lifts Tatsumi’s arresting images by shoot with bleak colours and often in monochrome with sparse settings.  The sinister short stories get full cinematic treatment as well as their points across as each story has deep emotional impact made even more powerful with the never outdated message of nuclear fallout.  Highly recommended!

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