Toronto Reel Asian International Festival – 27th Edition

As Asian stories go mainstream with more Asian representation in movies like Crazy Rich Asians or shows like Never Have I Ever and Fresh Off the Boat it is important to remember that when our stories become sanitized and made digestible for Western audiences, we tokenize ourselves, compromising our authenticity to make our narratives palatable. Historically, Asian representation in Hollywood has been celebrated by the Asian community in an era where the only Asian characters in mainstream media were racist caricatures, often played by non-Asians. Now that we have a seat at the table we need to ask ourselves if we want to be part of an industry that requires us to cater our stories to the white, Western lens, or whether we want to create our own stories for our communities.

Amidst all of the glamour of television and the big silver screen, we have still been losing control of our narratives. Storytelling through film has great capacity for amplifying marginalized voices and telling subversive stories that go against the grain. CCNC-SJ recognizes Toronto’s Reel Asian Film Festival as being a cornerstone in supporting Asian creatives and storytellers in making unfiltered, authentic films and documentaries, and provides an opportunity for Asians to come together to share our histories, present, and future.

This November, CCNC-SJ is thrilled to sponsor 4 programs at the Reel Asian Film Festival featuring films from diverse Asian Canadian voices on the topics of representation, resistance, solidarity between Asian and Black communities, and intersectionality.

The Unsung Voices program (a series of 6 short films) includes a film this year about the disappearance of Chinese Benevolence Associations which we feel is integral to understanding Chinese Canadian culture. Relics of Love and War, a film about Chinese Canadians in WWII, tells an important piece of our history that rarely gets the recognition it deserves. Baby Queen highlighted the voices and stories of Asians in the LGBTQ+ community, a community that deserves more attention and support from the Asian community at large. Finally, we sponsored We Will Be Brave, a film following an artist collective doing essential social justice work through their art, touching on healthy masculinity and finding alternatives to shame and punishment as a metric of justice in our society. 

CCNC-SJ helped promote these programs to connect members of our community and bring in a wider audience to facilitate a larger conversation on community-building. We hosted community giveaways to increase the accessibility of the film screenings to promote awareness of social issues and topics impacting the lives of Asian Canadian communities across Canada.

We are thrilled to continue our support for Reel Asian in the upcoming year and are excited to see the future of Asian storytelling as it unfolds.

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