Toronto – “Yellow Rose”, which stars two-time Tony-nominated Broadway performer Eva Noblezada, bagged the 2019 Reel Asian Best Feature Film Award during the 23rd edition of the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival held from 07 to 15 November 2019.
One of the winners of an original screenplay writing contest sponsored by ABS-CBN, “Yellow Rose” has previously won a string of awards within the festival circuit, including the Grand Jury Award at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, the Bentonville Film Festival and the CAAMFest37. The star of the film, Eva Noblezada, also won the Special Jury Prize for Best Breakthrough Performance at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.
Yellow Rose also stars Broadway legend Lea Salonga, veteran Philippine actress Princess Punzalan, Libby Villari, and Dale Watson. Punzalan, At the press conference held after the showing of the film, announced that Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions has acquired all worldwide rights to Yellow Rose. It is the first Filipino and Filipino American film to be acquired by Sony Pictures for theatrical release in the U.S. In the Philippines, the film will be distributed in theatres by ABS-CBN.
Another film who made it to Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival is “John Denver Trending”. It is a 2019 Filipino independent drama film directed and written by Arden Rod Condez, shot entirely in a small town in the Philippines with a limited budget. The film is about a 14-year old boy who fell prey to cyber bullying. The film portrayed a powerful statement against the dangers of social media. It won the award for Best Feature Film in 2019 Cinemalaya.
Executive Director Ms. Deanna Wong remarked that “Reel Asian has continued to build a strong and supportive community that lays the foundation for the current proliferation of Asian-made work to happen… actively pushing newer and more marginalized voices into the centre, as well as continuing to push the boundary edges, to include even more divergent stories.”
At this year’s festival, nearly 60 percent of the works programmed are by women and non-binary artists. The featured films included artists of Korean and Filipino descent, the two countries celebrating 100 years of cinema this year. There were also artists from Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the US, and Canada.
At the Closing Night on 15 November 2019, Consul General Castro delivered his remarks to an enthusiastic audience that packed the 566-seat Isabel Bader Theatre. He was extremely proud that a Filipino film, “Yellow Rose” closed this year’s festival. The Canadian premiere of Yellow Rose by Filipino-American filmmaker Diane Paragas, coincided with the year-long celebration of the centennial year of the Filipino film industry.
The success of “Yellow Rose” and “John Denver Trending” in the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival is an indication that there is a huge market for Asian content.