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 7 to 15 November 2019.
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. During the press conference held after the showing of the film, Punzalan announced that Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions has acquired all worldwide rights of the film. 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 theaters by ABS-CBN.
Another film who made it to Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival is John Denver Trending, a 2019 Filipino independent drama film directed and written by Arden Rod Condez. It 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 at the 2019 Cinemalaya.
Executive director 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, Consul General Castro delivered his remarks to the enthusiastic audience inside the Isabel Bader Theatre. He was extremely proud that a Filipino film, Yellow Rose closed this year’s festival. Its Canadian premiere 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.