Education

May Film List

ASIAN HERITAGE MONTH

May is Asian Heritage Month, celebrating the contributions of Asian-Canadians to the growth and prosperity of Canada. This year, it’s more important than ever to highlight the stories of Asian-Canadians in your classroom, and these films are sure to spark an engaging discussion.

BOLLYWOOD/HOLLYWOOD

(105 Min)

Set in Toronto and its wealthier suburbs, Bollywood/Hollywood joyfully subverts the romantic conventions of both cultures. Rahul (Khanna), a rich South Asian-Canadian dot-com entrepreneur, is pressured by his mother (Chatterjee) and grandmother to find a nice Hindu girl to accompany him to his sister’s (Malik’s) elaborate wedding ceremony.

As a joking way of accommodating them, he hires Sue (Ray), a beautiful escort girl, to pretend to be his fiancée. Naturally, the two fall in love, and just as naturally, complications ensue. Incorporating the wild stylistic excesses of Bollywood — the melodrama, the choreography and the music — Mehta allows Indian culture and societal attitudes to play out in Toronto.

“Much hilarity, joyful song and dance numbers and a surprisingly touching love story.” — Kevin Laforest, Montreal Film Journal

BREAKAWAY

(101 Min)

Rajveer Singh (Virmani) is struggling to balance the wishes of his traditional Sikh family and his own true passion for hockey. Raj and his friends play only for fun, held back by the prejudice and mockery of other teams as their turban-clad crew steps onto the ice. Enter Coach Dan Winters (Lowe) and soon the Speedy Singhs are competing in a real tournament, while Raj is falling in love with the coach’s beautiful sister, Melissa (Belle).

A cross-cultural story of self-discovery, Breakaway is a heartwarming, action-filled comedy, bringing a dash of Bollywood to Canada’s favourite sport. With a hilarious supporting cast including comedian Russell Peters, Breakaway will have you cheering for its unlikely heroes.

THE BREADWINNER

(94 Min)

Parvana (Saara Chaudry) is an 11-year-old girl growing up under the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001. When her father is wrongfully arrested, Parvana cuts off her hair and dresses like a boy in order to be able to get a job and help to support her family. Working alongside her friend Shauzia, Parvana discovers a new world of freedom and danger.

With courage and imagination, Parvana draws strength from the fantastical stories she invents, as she embarks on a quest to find her father and reunite her family. The Breadwinner is an inspiring and beautifully animated tale about the power of stories to sustain hope and carry us through dark times.

The Breadwinner has been nominated for 38 international awards, including six Canadian Screen Awards and the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

DOUBLE HAPPINESS

(87 Min)

Jade Li (Oh), a vivacious Chinese Canadian, wants to become an actress without upsetting her extremely traditional parents. It’s a balancing act that Jade is finding difficult to achieve. Talking in English, wearing western clothes and going out with non-Asian guys, Jade leads a secret life when she leaves her stuffy-but-warm domestic scene each day. Things come to a head when Mark (Rennie), a white Canadian graduate student, insists on turning their casual fling into something more meaningful. It’s a relationship that Jade’s parents would hate. What should she do?

Sandra Oh won the Best Actress Genie for her performance. The film also won prizes in Vancouver, Berlin and Turin.

DR. CABBIE

(101 Min)

When Deepak (Virmani), a young Indian doctor, immigrates to Canada in hopes of starting a better life, he is deeply disheartened to learn that his training does not qualify him to practise in Canada. With his new friend Tony (Nayyar), he starts work as a taxi driver, but fate intervenes in the form of a very pregnant passenger (Palicki) who urgently needs medical attention. Before long, Deepak has turned his cab into a doctor’s office. As his “practice” gets busier and romance with his first patient begins to blossom, it becomes clear that he is on a collision course with the medical establishment, the police and an ambitious politician who also happens to be the father of the baby he delivered.

“…With a host of appealing characters, snappy dialogue and an issue at its heart that will resonate with audiences, Dr. Cabbie provides a pleasingly comical cinematic ride.” — Bruce DeMara, The Toronto Star

IRON ROAD

(99 Min)

A tale of forbidden love set against the building of the Canadian railway in the 1880s, Iron Road tells the story of a Chinese woman (Li) who disguises herself as a man and persuades the son of a railroad tycoon (Macfarlane) to hire her onto the explosives crew.

Soon, though, she finds herself falling in love with him, and as the physical terrain becomes more dangerous, so does the landscape of the heart. Beautifully shot and featuring screen legend Peter O’Toole in one of his last roles, Iron Road revisits an important and controversial time in Canadian history.

Originally broadcast as a CBC miniseries, REEL CANADA is proud to present the feature version of this epic tale that spans two continents.

MEDITATION PARK

(94 Min)

Meditation Park opens with Maria (Cheng Pei Pei), the matriarch of a Chinese-Canadian family, hosting a birthday celebration for her workaholic husband, Bing, (Tzi Ma), along with her similarly overworked daughter (Sandra Oh in a brilliant performance) and her own family.

Maria clearly reveres Bing and the sacrifices he has made for their family – so when she discovers another woman’s panties in his pocket, she's forced to confront the harsh reality that her world may not be what it seemed.

As Maria wrestles with what to do about her discovery, she befriends a group of local eccentrics and a grumpy neighbour (Don McKellar). Maria’s journey of self-discovery soon teaches her everyone’s lives are more complicated than she has been led to believe.

“Shum mines her favourite theme – immigrant experience in Canada – in what seems at first to be a gentle slice of life but eventually develops a powerful emotional force.” – Susan G. Cole, NOW Magazine
 
 

MIDNIGHT’S CHILDREN

(146 Min)

This collaboration between one of Canada’s most fearless directors and Salman Rushdie, one of the world’s most imaginative and controversial novelists, is a film bursting with colour, wit and magic.

Two children are born at the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, the very moment that India claimed its independence from Great Britain — a coincidence that has profound consequences on their lives. Switched at birth in the hospital, the boys — one from a wealthy family, the other belonging to a poor single father — must live out each other’s intended fates, their lives strangely intertwined and linked to their country’s journey through the tumultuous 20th century.

“Boiling over with passion every step of the way.”
— Peter Debruge, Variety

WATER

(114 Min)

Set in India during the rise of Mahatma Gandhi, Water recounts the story of Chuyia (Kariyawasam), a child bride. When her husband dies suddenly, Chuyia is forced to live in an ashram for Hindu widows, essentially cut off from society.

Fortunately, she finds friends in the beautiful Kilyani (Ray) and in the forward-thinking Narayan (Abraham). With their help, Chuyia attempts to escape the confines of her existence. Boasting lush visuals, Water could easily be a bleak story of deprivation and loss, but in Mehta’s gentle hands, it becomes one charged with hope and optimism.

Water was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

WINDOW HORSES

(88 Min)

This extraordinary animated feature tells the tale of Rosie, a young Canadian poet of Chinese and Persian descent. Rosie lives in Vancouver with her Chinese grandparents and dreams of travelling and seeing the world. 

When she receives an invitation to a poetry festival in Shiraz, Iran, Rosie embarks on a journey that unravels a personal mystery and brings her closer to her Persian roots. 

Voiced by an all-star cast including Sandra Oh, Ellen Page and Don McKellar, Window Horses is a beautiful and poignant story about family, imagination, culture and finding your own voice. 

"This is not just a visual treat, it's a rewarding and unexpectedly engrossing piece of female-led storytelling." – Wendy Ide, Screen International 

THE WORLD BEFORE HER

(90 Min)

Ruhi Singh is on her way to Bombay to participate in an intense beauty boot camp as a contestant in the Miss India pageant, a surefire launching pad to fame in a country of 1.2 billion people. 

Meanwhile, just a few hours away, Prachi Trivedi works at a very different kind of camp – one run by a militant Hindu nationalist group, where young girls are trained to combat western influences. 

Moving between the two camps, this lively and provocative documentary paints a portrait of a nation in transformation. A study in contrasts on the one hand, the film also reveals disturbing similarities in the obstacles that each woman faces as she tries to have an impact on her society.

The World Before Her won Best Canadian Feature at the Hot Docs Canadian International Film Festival. 

THE CUBAN

(109 Min)

The Cuban is a touching story about friendship, love and of course, beautiful music. Mina (Golga), an Afghani-Canadian pre-med student in her first placement at a long-term care home, meets Luis (Gossett Jr.) an elderly musician whose dementia has deprived him of many of the memories of his youth in Cuba. When Mina finds a way to reignite his memory using music and food from his past, the two enter on an inspiring journey of self-discovery that reawakens Mina’s love of music, and changes both of their lives.

Featuring a stellar cast and beautiful original music, The Cuban is a heartwarming cross-cultural story that received 3 Canadian Screen Award nominations.

“As a story of the curative power of music, it works, has a good beat and you can dance to it.” – Richard Crouse, film critic

FUNNY BOY

(109 Min)

This heartbreaking tale of love and loss follows Arjie (Nand as a child, Ingram as an adult), a Tamil child in Sri Lanka, who is referred to as a “funny boy” by his family, because he doesn’t behave like the other boys. He draws inspiration from his free-spirited Canadian cousin to explore his identity, and goes on to pursue his crushes on the boys in his class. When he reaches adulthood, his life, family, and his first real love are all threatened as the Sri Lankan Civil War breaks out and brings about life-changing tragedies and upheavals.

Based on the celebrated novel by Shyam Selvadurai, Funny Boy was nominated for nine Canadian Screen Awards, winning for directing, screenplay and score.

“An attractive journey, gilded in summery light throughout by Douglas Koch’s camera.” – Guy Lodge, Variety