International Film Festival

The 21st edition of the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival will run from Nov. 9 to 18. This is a unique showcase of contemporary Asian cinema and work from the Asian diaspora. Four much-talked-about Japanese films will be screened this year!



A Whale of a Tale

おクジラさま 〜 ふ た つ の 正 義 の 物 語

In the once quiet seaside village of Taiji in Wakayama Prefecture, the local whaling practice has become synonymous with animal abuse since Louie Psihoyos’s film The Cove won the 2009 Oscar for Best Documentary. Years later, filmmaker Megumi Sasaki offers a more nuanced examination of the small fishing community, focusing on points of contact and communication between both sides of the conflict—environmentalism versus tradition—in ways that The Cove did not. A Whale of a Tale does not attempt to resolve what will remain an ideological deadlock between the foreign activists who have devoted years to their cause and agricultural workers who have developed a long-standing tradition passed on to the next generation. Instead, in a global climate where opposing sides are communicating at each other instead of with each other, Sasaki succeeds in giving us pause. This screening will be followed by a discus- sion moderated by Takashi Fujitani, professor of history at the University of Toronto.

Sat, Nov. 18, 6 pm, Innis Town Hall Theatre (2 Sussex Ave.) • PG • Canadian Premiere

Directed by Megumi Sasaki Starring Jay Alabaste

Tickets: Free admission. Guests must register for the event through the Asian Institute at event/23857


Blade of the Immortal


As prolific as he is controversial, maverick director Takashi Miike returns with his 100th film and revisits the jidaigeki genre he previously mastered with the films 13 Assassins and Harakiri—Death of a Samurai. When bounty hunters kill his sister and leave him for dead, Manji is visited by a mysterious nun who grants him a strange immortality through the ability to self-heal. Years later, he is hired as a bodyguard for Rin, whose kendo-master father and pupils were slaughtered by the swordsmen of Itto-ryu. Together they embark on a campaign of vengeance, culminating in an intricately choreographed, blood-soaked climax that will leave your head spinning. Based on Hiroaki Sumara’s hugely popular manga, Miike offsets his epic, bloody battle scenes with healthy doses of humour, fantasy and visual splendour. Official selection of Cannes Film Festival 2017 and Fantasia Film Festival 2017.

Thurs, Nov. 16, 7 pm, Kobayashi Hall, JCCC (6 Garamond Ct.) 14A • Toronto Premiere
Directed by Takashi Miike

Starring Takuya Kimura, Hana Sugisaki, Sota Fukushi and Hayato Ichihara
Tickets: $12. Available exclusively through




Dear Etranger


Dear Etranger takes a hard look at a complicated family unit, headed by the 40-year-old Makoto. A man with two families, Makoto tries to lead as ordinary a life as possible—he maintains a bond with his daughter from his first marriage, but he also tries to keep her away from his second wife, Nanae, and his two stepdaughters. When Nanae becomes pregnant, however, the fissures around the seemingly happy family begin to widen. And this news comes at the worst possible time—when career ruin, fatal disease and other tragedies have befallen Makoto’s kin. But Makoto refuses to give up or to abandon his ideal: having a family where he is more than the title “étranger” (stranger). Based on Kiyoshi Shigematsu’s 1996 novel, Haruhiko Arai’s script covers years in the lives of the Tanaka family using conventional flashbacks presented with unconventional freshness. The film, honest and candid, is unafraid to show life as often messy and raw, providing glimpses of the sort of interior truths that reveal themselves only rarely.

Thurs, Nov. 9, 7:30 pm, Isabel Bader Theatre (91 Charles St. E.) 14A • Ontario Premiere
Directed by Yukiko Mishima (in attendance)

Starring Tadanobu Asano, Rena Tanaka, Shinobu Terashima and Kankuro Kudo

Tickets: $25. Includes the opening night party at the Spoke Club

Please refer to the Movie links below,

for a full review of the festival’s fourth Japanese film, Teiichi: Battle of Supreme High (帝一の國). For the full screening schedule, visit