Reel Asian Film Festival: Trailblazers

Trailblazers is a series of short films playing at the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival surrounding the injustices and hardships faced by elders.

 Quirky and eccentric, these shorts tell stories of seniors who bravely take different paths and continue to celebrate their unique identities.

 In Totte Mitsu, Let’s Go to Russia, director Brian Lye follows two women who fight over a camera in a spontaneous film made with his Japanese host mother and her friend.

 Granny’s Rock (Babah No Rock), is about a 68-year-old artist named Miya Yumemi who is often seen as a “crazy” person on the streets of Tokyo.  The documentary-style film directed by Satoru Yasuda captures Yumemi’s unique marker drawings and unusual yet endearing personality.

 Then there’s Grandpa’s Wet Dream.  Directed by Chihiro Amemiya, it follows a 75-year-old Japanese man who has been acting in adult movies for 15 years without telling his family.

 And lastly, there’s Sugar Bowl. Directed by Shasha Nakhai, this film takes the audience through the rise and fall of the sugar cane industry in the Philippines. This short won the 2010 Reel Asian Charles Street Video So You Think You Can Pitch? Award.

 The films in Trailblazers may seem low-budget, but the content and characters are what draws the audience in.

  Filled with charming seniors marching to the own beat of their drum, their lives and personalities shine through in the end.

(This review was published in the December 2011 issue of the Ryerson Free Press)

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