Watchlist: Our guide to the 2022 Vancouver Asian Film Festival

The 26th annual Vancouver Asian Film Festival explores identity, truth, reverence, inspiration and more in our top film picks.

Identity, truth, celebration, reverence and aspiration – these are some of the themes you’ll see in the films featured in the 26th annual Vancouver Asian Film Festival. 

With a mix of in-person and virtual screenings, along with other events, there is something for everyone. Check out the full in-person screening schedule for more information. 

Here are our top picks for what to watch and how to celebrate Asian excellence on screen and behind the scenes: 

Stay the Night 

Director: Renuka Jeyapalan 
November 3, 2022 | 7:00pm | Cineplex Odeon International Village Cinemas

Trailer for Stay the Night

Starring Andrea Bang from Kim’s Convenience (whom I certainly have missed on screen), you’ll watch how a failed work opportunity prompts chronically single Grace (Bang) to pursue a one night stand with a stranger (Joe Scarpellino). 

Turns out he’s an on-the-outs professional athlete in town with a problem of his own. Maybe they can help each other. 

You can also catch Ginny & Georgia’s Raymond Ablack and Humberly González in this opening night feature. 

Miss Cantonese 

Director: Cindy Au Yeung
November 6, 2022 | 5:15pm | Cineplex Odeon International Village Cinemas

Singer-songwriter Kristina Lao sitting in a chair looking up
Kristina Lao. Photo credit: VAFF

“I grew up not knowing where I ‘fit’. A lot of us have, in different ways. For me, being British, South Asian, Southeast Asian, Polish, and living four to seven years in most countries before leaving to the next, that’s a lot of in-betweens.”

Artist-advocate and singer-songwriter Kristina Lao workshops a song called “Miss Cantonese (廣東話小姐)” with members from the Vantopop Collective, which ultimately explores Kristina’s own background of identifying between two cultures.

This eight-minute documentary was produced by #Elimin8Hate, an organization dedicated to dismantle anti-Asian racism through the power of the arts, film, and media.

See also: Blurring the Color Line speaks to today’s tensions between Chinese grocers in a Black neighbourhood during the Jim Crow era. Director Crystal Kwok’s personal journey of discovery aims to disrupt the black and white narrative of America’s racial history. You can access resources and learn more about the film’s impact.

Ballers and shot-callers

Trailer for 38 at the Garden.

I’ve attended this festival for a number of years now, but I don’t think I can recall so many basketball-centered films. This year’s line-up includes these three very different films that all have a basketball theme to them.

If you followed basketball in the ’90s or saw that picture of Simu Liu rocking a sweatshirt of a bear drinking boba, The Grizzlie Truth dives deep into the fandom of Kat Jayme, a superfan of the previously-based Vancouver Grizzlies. Jayme sets out to uncover the truth behind the disappearance of her beloved hometown NBA team in hopes of bringing them back.

Or maybe you followed or heard of a more recent basketball and cultural icon, Jeremy Lin. Writer and director Frank Chi speaks with Lin himself along with Lisa Ling, Hasan Minhaj, Ronny Chieng, Jenny Yang and more in 38 At The Garden. In a hostile time for Asian Americans, the film gives hope and shatters stereotypes on the sport’s biggest stage.

Golden Delicious follows the story of Asian Canadian teen Jake who finds himself trying out for the basketball team to get the attention of his new neighbour. It’s a classic coming-of-age drama set in the digital age. 

See the full list of virtual screenings here. These films are available for Canadian residents to view only.

Vancouver Asian Film Festival Opening Night Gala

November 3, 2022 | 9:00pm | D6 Lounge

Cast of The CW's Kung Fu at the 25th annual Vancouver Asian Film Festival
The cast of The CW’s Kung Fu. Photo submitted.

Following the opening night feature, you’ll want to head straight on over to the opening gala and afterparty. 

Meet other attendees, filmmakers, cast and crew members. Local Asian Canadian musicians will also be the entertainment for the night, while Bling Empire’s Kevin Kreider will be the special guest of the night. 

Knowing that so many shows film in Vancouver, you may even see other familiar faces. Last year I saw just about the entire cast of The CW’s Kung Fu a few feet away from me. 

More in-person events

Tzi Ma in Different Than Before music video. Photo credit: VAFF

Each year, the shorts programs continue to get better and better. 

The Canadian shorts program includes Osric Chau‘s Good News starring Ken Kirby and Jacky Lai, Tesh Guttikonda’s Mom vs Machine starring Praneet Akilla, and a powerful music video for singer-songwriter Amanda Sum’s Different Than Before, directed by Mayumi Yoshida and starring Tzi Ma (Mulan, Kung Fu), Olivia Cheng (Warrior, Marco Polo) and Sachin Sahel (The 100).

Other films we’re putting on our list include Jon Chiang’s The Reality Of A Dream, Julie Kim’s In Love With A Problem, and this year’s award-winning shorts from VAFF’s Mighty Moviemaking Marathon

If you’re in the film industry or want to learn more about it, check out the industry panel events where you can hear from a variety of film industry professionals. You can watch either in-person or online. 

Cold Tea Collective is proud to be a media partner of this event. These are just a handful of the films screening in person and online. For tickets, passes and more information, visit the Vancouver Asian Film Festival website

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People chatting at the Making It documentary screening.

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