Family relationships take the spotlight during this year's Reel Asian International Film Festival

Filmmaker Fawzia Mirza and cast members from The Queen of My Dreams attend the opening night of the Reel Asian Film Festival on Wednesday in Toronto. (Teghan Beaudette/CBC - image credit)
Filmmaker Fawzia Mirza and cast members from The Queen of My Dreams attend the opening night of the Reel Asian Film Festival on Wednesday in Toronto. (Teghan Beaudette/CBC - image credit)

The Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival kicked off on Wednesday evening with the opening film The Queen of My Dreams, the debut feature film by Canadian filmmaker Fawzia Mirza.

The Queen of My Dreams tells the story of a young queer Canadian woman (Amrit Kaur) and her relationship to her Pakistani Muslim mother in the wake of her father's sudden death, borrowing from the colourful imagery of Bollywood musicals, for which the two women have a shared love. The film will be released in early 2024.

This year's Reel Asian festival includes a number of films that explore family relationships and intergenerational dynamics through genre cinema, according to Ariam Collier, artistic director at the Reel Asian festival.

"We're just noticing how much Asian Canadian film is really rising and the storytelling is just getting better and better," Collier told CBC News.

WATCH | A trailer for The Queen of My Dreams

Programmer Mariam Zaidi noted, "There is, in a really beautiful way, a great representation of Pakistani Muslim films this year which I'm really proud of." Zaidi works primarily with South Asian and West Asian films.

CBC News has a preview of films screening at this year's Reel Asian film festival in Toronto. The full schedule is available here.

The Taste of Mango

A documentary in which Sri Lankan British filmmaker Chloe Abrahams' turns the camera on herself, exploring familial identity through her relationship with her mother and grandmother.

Okiku and The World

A period drama set during Japan's Edo era, the film follows a young woman living in a tenement house as she develops a fascination with a "manure man" who collects excrement to sell to farmers.

Small Fry

A struggling actor who spends his free time making fishing videos to post on his popular YouTube channel has a chance meeting with a successful actress and a director in this South Korean drama with a sense of humour.

In Flames

In this Pakistani-Canadian supernatural horror film that Pakistan has put forward as its Oscar submission, a widow and her medical student daughter are haunted by insidious spirits from their traumatic past.


A Japanese time loop comedy in which the staff and guests of a charming riverside inn near Kyoto begin to relive the same two-minute cycle over and over.

We Will Be Brave

A documentary film that follows Toronto social collective The Good Guise, a group of racialized male artists, as they explore a complicated relationship with masculinity.


Lebanese-American filmmaker Jude Chehab explores family secrets in this documentary about a secret matriarchal religious order to which the women in her family have pledged allegiance for generations.

Starring Jerry as Himself

A character study that blurs the lines between documentary, mystery and thriller, the film follows Taiwanese immigrant and Florida resident Jerry Hsu, a family man working to clear his name after a serious accusation by Chinese police.

Tiger Stripes

This Malaysian coming-of-age horror film follows an 11-year-old girl whose first period coincides with a village-wide panic over the presence of a demonic spirit.

Terrestrial Verses

A collection of nine vignettes depict the everyday lives of Iranian people and their interactions with authority figures within a strict social regime.


A Japanese Canadian woman's relationship with her husband begins to crumble during a family retreat taken shortly after the loss of her mother in this debut from Vancouver filmmaker Meredith Hama-Brown.


This quietly clever comedy follows a young Pakistani Muslim boy growing up in '90s Silicon Valley who detests a prepubescent mustache that he can't shave off.

Relics of Love and War

Chinese-Canadian documentarian Keith Lock tells the story of his parents' marriage in Australia while his father was preparing for a top secret suicide mission.

Baby Queen

A feature about a Singaporean drag queen named Opera Tang, with particular focus on her 90-year-old grandmother, who fashions her costumes.

Several short films will screen during the festival on Saturday and Sunday, including titles Let's Be Friends, Unsung Voices, Emergence, Under The Influence, Here We Are, The Strange, The Odd and The Familiar.

The Reel Asian International Film Festival runs from Nov. 8 to 19 in Toronto.