Although Toronto is one of the world’s largest public film festivals, this status belies the paradigm shift it has undergone since the 1990s, when it plugged itself into the global film industry by launching Hollywood films ahead of the US award season. Toronto’s knack for creating award buzz now accounts for most of its prestige. Had the city of Toronto been located in Asia, it’s certain that the Asian Film Summit—one of the festival’s newest projects—would likewise play out on a grander scale.
Inaugurated in 2012 to success, the 1-day summit was launched at a time when filmmaking and film-going in Asia have been growing exponentially, with the huge markets of China and India fueling this rise. That the summit has returned for a second year suggests that market potential in Asia is too massive to ignore. For now, Asia is the only continent that Toronto has dedicated an industry-networking platform, with a practical objective of bridging the film industries of Asia and North America.
This year’s summit guests comprise filmmakers, industry players and film festival representatives. Event highlights include a discussion of Hong Kong director Johnnie To’s career and films (with To in attendance); Canadian actor-turned director Keanu Reeves’ discussion of his directorial debut Man of Tai Chi (pictured), a China-US co-production the festival is premiering; and panels on the evolutionary state of animated films and how local films can harness global crossover potential.