Many P40 members attended various Reel Asian movie screenings across their two week programming schedule. We’ve rounded up some micro-reviews for the events that we made it to!
Kim’s Convenience Industry Panel (11/09)
Mirae Lee: If I spent the last five weeks laughing at Appa’s jokes on my own from my laptop screen, I found myself surrounded by people who I could share laughters and teardrops at the event. As director Ins Choi, and actors, Paul Lee, Jean Yoon and Simu Liu shared their experiences in the industry, you realize that Kim’s Convenience isn’t only a step closer to diversity in Canadian media. It stands as a long-overdue feeling of belonging and presence as Asians in a white dominant industry – the feeling of being part of a “family” and being at “home” which is lacking tremendously for POC for many decades. Looking around the crowd, I knew immediately how important the show is, and the work the crew is doing for all of us who just wanted to see our stories and know we are not alone.
Bad Rap (11/11)
Amanda Low: Asian people have had a tough time finding a voice and space in Hip-Hop culture, constantly being subjugated to lowbrow stereotypes and accusations of not being authentic. Bad Rap explores these issues through the lives of four ‘prominent’ Asian American rappers and their shared experiences of navigating this world. The film started strong by posing provocative questions of identity, sexuality, and cultural appropriation, but ultimately left a lot to be desired. For me, Bad Rap could have benefited by sticking closer to documentary plot line and not an autobiographical one.
Salima Koroma presents a brilliant film which explores the lives of four Asian American rappers, and attempts to answer questions of intersectionality. I very much enjoyed the film’s exploration of the history of rap from a hardly seen Asian American perspective. The presented struggles of racism and inclusivity are not unfamiliar to many Asian Americans, but these rappers each offer their own unique struggles which makes the film very captivating.
Around the Bend (11/12)
Jasmine Gui: I’d always wanted to catch one of these curated presentations at Reel Asian – a variety of short films vaguely grouped around a theme. As a poet, the short film for me is perhaps the closest visual genre, and so it was no surprise that among this selection there was a lovely short piece shot on expired film by Sofia Bohdanowicz, “A Drownful Brilliance of Wings”, based on a poem by Gillian Sze (who we published in LooseLeaf Volume 2)! The highlight for me of the night included, “The Time Agent” by Jude Chun, whose techniques and colouring were so on point in creating the complex emotive vibe of the film. Other notable mentions include: “The Silent Mob” by Harvan Augstriansyah, whose actors did an amazing job conveying a blankness that blanketed more tumultuous emotions, the tongue-in-cheek animated noir “The Wrong Block” by Sam Chou and Miranda Quesnel, and the exquisite decadent colouring in “Plastic Fish” by Wu Chencheng.
Rites of Passage (11/13)
Mirae Lee: When Alison Kobayashi stepped onto the stage and dictated through the mic “Play synth music” to the band, the audience knew immediately this show wasn’t going to be anything expected. Four female filmmakers of Asian descents told their unique story surrounding “rites of passage,” while the Canadian indie pop band Ohbijou brought to life these four short films with a live score performance. The event brought together both visual and aural sensation in a beautiful harmony, and the audience was invited to see the narrative-making process unfold in front of their eyes (and ears). The event left me with an appreciation for the diverse stories and stylistic approaches of each of the films, but mostly, love for Casey Mecija and her Ohbijou family, with a hope to encounter more of their wonderful music in the future.
Unsung Voices 5 (11/14)
Jennifer Su: Monday’s screening of Unsung Voices 5 wasn’t like any other screening for me—it was also the first time I would be premiering my own short film, 36 Questions, which I made as a participant in the introductory filmmaking program organized by Reel Asian. Seeing months of our brainstorming, scriptwriting, production, and editing come together on the big screen was not only satisfying, but also inspiring. Although we all worked behind the scenes on each other’s films, we had no idea what direction each script was going to take, what each person’s vision would be. The stories told by my fellow emerging filmmakers reflected true diversity: family, friendship, relationships, expectations, abandonment, and isolation were all topics explored—as they always have been in cinema—but this time through characters and settings that reflected our unique experiences as Asian-Canadian artists.
Mirae Lee: My first immediate response at the end of the screening was admiration and a smile. Despite the collaborative efforts of helping each other in the production of each of the films, every single one of the 10-minute shorts was so unique in narrative, aesthetic, and execution. What Unsung Voices reminded me of was that films created by POC and featuring POC should not be understood explicitly as ways of seeking their appropriate cultural meaning, but rather friendship loss, babysitting drama, superstitions and conspiracy theories, passion for music, and familial tensions and love are universal themes which are part of everyone’s life journey. But most importantly, what Unsung Voices showed us was that any idea has the ability to become alive and anyone with that idea has the ability to share their voice – their stories – through art.
Window Horses (11/16)
Jasmine Gui: If you want to watch a film where thoughtful and creative animation is the primary storytelling and driving force, watch Window Horses. Featuring a multitude of collaborations with different animators, Ann Marie Fleming directs this light-hearted film that deals with some unexpectedly heavy material. What carries the film is the attention paid to art, and the abundance of its forms: music, poetry, visual art, within the movie almost surpass the plot devices that make up its narrative infrastructure. Featuring Sandra Oh as the voice of Rosie Ming, the film is a love letter to art that crosses oceans, inhabits all kinds of bodies, and emerges in all kinds of voices and forms.
Hediyeh Mehdizadeh: Window Horses tells the story of Ann Marie Fleming’s minimalist cartoon avatar, Rosie Ming. Rosie is an aspiring poet from Canada and is obsessed with France. However, she trades in her pink beret for a chador once she is invited to perform at a poetry festival in Shiraz, Iran. In Rosie’s past and present, diasporas meet, share their poetry as well as their pain, and fall in love. Watching Rosie clumsily cover up with hijab only to uncover the truth about her father’s disappearance is an experience I would highly recommend.