From its beginnings in 1997, ReelAsian has evolved and expanded each year to become a six day extravaganza and the largest Asian film festival in Canada.
The brainchild of acclaimed producer Anita Lee and journalist Andrew Sun, the goal of ReelAsian – or to give its full title, the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival – since it early days has been to promote and celebrate the efforts of Asian filmmakers and artists, with a particular focus on the contemporary works of East and Southeast Asia, as well as those by Asian-Canadian and Asian-American creatives.
2014 sees the 18th edition of this non-profit, community-based event spread over eleven days in November, with a bursting-at-the-seams programme of screenings, music events, workshops and galas, all geared to spreading the word and feeding the ever-increasing hunger for Asian cinema and artists amongst the Canadian public. Its success has seen it expand further into the community since 2010, with a two day festival weekend based in nearby Richmond Hill widening the audience further.
Running alongside the screenings of international and local indie features, documentaries and shorts, ReelAsian has a comprehensive series of immersive and involving events where the general public or aspiring filmmakers can participate, network and gain valuable insights into and experience of the industry. The now-annual So You Think You Can Pitch? contest gives filmmakers the opportunity to pitch their movie concept to a professional panel, with prizes including sessions with professional editors, rental equipment and the chance to screen their short at the next ReelAsian. The festival also runs a Youth Programme dedicated to showcasing diverse videos from young directors from Canada and around the world, and an Industry Series which comprises workshops, panels and Q&As designed to train and connect creatives and artists in order to further the cause of Asian filmmaking and creativity.
ReelAsian hosts an annual industry awards reception for outstanding work, and runs a longer programme of year-round events across Toronto which include special screenings – for example, anime classic Akira – summer video production workshops and competitions to win VIP festival experiences.
Wide-ranging, informative and enormous fun, ReelAsian takes place annually in November across various venues in downtown Toronto and Richmond Hill, with 2014 running from November 6th to 11th.