Anthony Shim’s ‘Riceboy Sleeps’ gets TIFF Platform Prize

Riceboy Sleeps Image credit TIFF

The Platform Prize at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) was awarded to Korean-Canadian filmmaker Anthony Shim’s sophomore feature ‘ Riceboy Sleeps’ TIFF announced on Sep 18 during the TIFF awards ceremony held at TIFF Light Box.

Anthony Shim (right). Image credit: Asha Bajaj

Championing bold directorial visions from filmmakers around the globe, from first-time to veteran auteurs, Platform is TIFF’s competitive programme.  

Of the ten films selected for the programme, the best film selected by an international in-person jury, Riceboy Sleeps was awarded $20,000 CAD.

“I am thrilled to have Riceboy Sleeps recognized by the programmers, the Platform jury and by audiences at this year’s TIFF, it was amazing to see the reaction to the film our team worked so hard on and that is such a deeply personal project,” says Shim, who directed, wrote, edited, produced and starred in the film. 

The Platform jury provided this statement: “The 2022 TIFF Platform Jury announces the unanimous choice for the Platform Prize — Riceboy Sleeps, written and directed by Anthony Shim for its deeply moving story and precisely-observed characters as they navigate racism, dislocation, family, and love. It balances social realism with pure poetry. Plus, it’s very funny. The leads Choi Seung-Yoon (2022 TIFF Rising Stars), Ethan Hwang, and Dohyun Noel Hwang deserve top honors. Riceboy Sleeps touches on, in a most accessible way, some of humanity’s biggest challenges — how to merge cultures without erasing individuals, how to grow up whole in fragmented families, and how to defend ourselves from internalizing the subtle and not so subtle discriminations of the privileged.”

The world premiere of Riceboy Sleeps which took place at TIFF 2022 earlier this week, stars Ethan Hwang (The Umbrella Academy), Anthony Shim (Zoe), and newcomers Dohyun Noel Hwang and Yoon.

Yoon was selected as a TIFF Rising Star and Share Her Journey Fellow for her breakout performance as So-young in the film.

Set in the 90s, the film shot in Vancouver follows a Korean single mother So -Young, played by veteran-dancer-turned-first-time actress Choi Seung-yoon who raises her young son raises her son Dong-hyun, played as a child by Dohyun Noel Hwang and as a 15-year-old by Ethan Hwang in the suburbs of Canada. Choi Seung-yoon is determined to provide a better life for him than the one she left behind. The film show how they’re making their way in Canada amid a dominant white culture. But both the mother and son face a lot of challenges and struggles, The mother suffering racism at her work place and the son being bullied in school. As each of them tries to overcome their hardships their relations become strained.

“In the 1990s portion of the film, oftentimes I frame it so the Korean characters are in the background, and the Caucasian characters are in the foreground and are very dominating with the voices, their faces, their bodies, often times blocking the protagonist,” Shim reported saying to Hollywood Reporters.

Filmed in Vancouver and South Korea,  Riceboy Sleeps is distributed by Game Theory Films in Canada, and Sphere Films International is handling international sales. 

Produced by Rebecca Steele, Bryan Demore, Anthony Shim the film is produced in Lonesome Heroes Productions, Kind Stranger Productions, A Lasting Dose Productions, the film features the talents of the director of photography Christopher Lew.

Riceboy Sleeps ‘s festival run screenings will continue at FIN in Halifax, VIFF for its hometown premiere in Vancouver, CIFF in Calgary, Cinéfest in Sudbury and Busan for its International premiere. The film will be released in theatres in 2023. RICEBOY SLEEPS was made possible through the support of Telefilm Canada, CRAVE, CBC, and Harold Greenberg Fund.

(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)

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