The Fantastical and the Real: 2023 EASGSU Film Talk Series

When and Where

Thursday, September 07, 2023 9:00 am to Thursday, September 21, 2023 8:00 pm
Robarts Library Building
130 St George St, Toronto, ON M5S 1A5


The Fantastical and the Real exhibits multiple endeavors of film and video production that engage with historical imagination as well as courses of geopolitics in East Asia and beyond. 

By putting together a diverse collection of avant-garde documentaries, socialist sci-fi films, Kaiju movies, we hope to re-introduce passions about massive urbanization through feature films, while unearthing the various forms of anxieties about urban futurity. Meanwhile, we also proudly present a fascinating group of contemporary artist films that engage with pressing issues such as urban villages and outcasts, the emergence of national capitalism, and the natural environment in the face of rapid globalization and urbanization. 

With all these movies, documentaries, and artist films, we invite four contemporary artists to join conversations with scholars from art history, cinema studies, history, and East Asian studies.

We hope that our audience and participants will experience the fragments of the Asia Pacific that are left untouched by mainstream narratives and memories.

This series is organized by the Graduate Student Union of East Asian Studies (EASGSU), in collaboration with the Graduate Union of Students of Art (GUStA) and the Cheng Yu Tung East Asian Library. This event is also financially supported by the JHI working group, Thinking Infrastructures in Global Asia .

These events are open to all University of Toronto students.

Part I: Film Screenings

In the two weeks starting from September 7, we will explore film and video productions in and across space and time, moving from socialist Beijing to Cold-War Tokyo, from the modern city of Wuhan to the marvelous Pacific. More information about the films can be found below.

RSVP is required for in-person screenings. Please click here to register to attend a screening

Screening schedule: 

Ballad of the Ming Tombs Reservoir (China, 1958) and two newsreels of China Today 
Thursday, September 7, 2-5pm
Robarts Media Commons Theater 3025

Ballad of the Ming Tombs Reservoir is the first Science-fiction movie produced by the People’s Republic of China ever. Accompanying the actual completion of the Ming Tombs Reservoir in the same year of its release, the film presents a cinematic imagination of the socialist future. This screening session will show this feature film along with two newsreels from the same year produced by the Central Newsreel and Documentary Film Studio of China.

Godzilla (Japan, 1954)
Friday, September 8th, 3 - 5pm
Robarts Media Commons Theater 3025

The first “Kaiju” (monster) film in the world, Godzilla shows not just special effects before CGI, but also the fear of nuclear attacks of post-war Japan in the global Cold-War dynamics. 

West of the Tracks (China, 2003)
Monday, September 11th, 2 - 5pm
EAS Lounge

Wang Bing’s documentary series on the industrial decay in the late 90s in Northeast China. It records quotidian lives of heavy industry workers in Shenyang, who made up a significant proportion of the local population at that time.

Funeral Parade of Roses (1969)
Thursday, September 14th, 2 - 4pm
Robarts Media Commons Theater 3025

This is the first feature film of Matsumoto Toshio, one of the most legendary avant-garde filmmakers in postwar Japan and a member of the A.T.G. (Art Theater Guild). Following the trials and tribulations of drag queen “Eddie” and her fellow transgender women in the city of Tokyo, this film, combining genres of documentary and drama, offers an unconventional and unexpected adaptation of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s 1967 work Oedipus Rex.

Contemporary Independent Films:
Wuhan Punk (Chris Zhongtian YUAN, 2020)** / 
Wandering Baizhizhou (Sabrina MUZI, 2017)** / Lining (HO Rui An, 2021) / Long Time Between Sunsets and Underground Waves (HU Wei, 2020-2021)**
Friday, September 15th, 3 - 6pm
Robarts Media Commons Theater 3025

This screening event features four short videos that form a spectrum of Being as life-making. In Chris Zhongtian Yuan’s short video, Wuhan Punk (2020), we follow the artist on a psychic journey of finding a disappeared punk group frontman, through which we experience the transformation of the acoustic and visual landscape of the city of Wuhan. In Sabrina Muzi’s short film, Wandering Baishizhou (2017), we take a walk with the artist in one of the most (in)famous Chinese urban villages, which gradually unveils the layered paradoxes embedded in urban modernities. A longer history of industrialization and urban transformation is furthered and well-documented in Ho Rui An’s video work Lining (2021), in which the artist employs archives and oral history to trace the shifting economic structures of Hong Kong and its material connections to neighboring regions before the handover. Last but not least, we see the decay of urban industries in Hu Wei’s video work, Long Time Between Sunsets and Underground Waves (2020-2021). In this “semi-documentary,” “semi-fictional” work, the artist reflects on human activities from the perspective of the island, which forwards a poetical critique of urbanization and globalization. 

**Online streaming is available, please email ( for the link.

Part II: Panel Discussions

On September 20th and 21st, we will bring together independent filmmakers, artists, and U of T faculty members working on relevant fields in four panel discussions. There will be four separate sessions each featuring a special faculty guest from departments of Cinema Studies, Art History, History, and EAS.

All films screened will be essential components of four inspiring conversations that address issues and problems of gender, urban migration, ecology, and memory.

Registration is required for virtual panel eventsPlease click here to register for the virtual sessions.

Panel Talk Schedule: 

Conversation on Lining
Speakers: Artist Ho Rui An and Professor Elizabeth WIJAYA of the Institute of Cinema Studies
Wednesday, September 20th, 10 - 11am on Zoom

Conversation on Wandering Baishizhou
Speakers: Artist Sabrina Muzi and Professor Tong LAM of the Department of History 
Wednesday, Septemeber 20th, 2-3pm on Zoom

Conversation on Long Time Between Sunsets and Underground Waves 
Speakers: Artist HU Wei and Professor Erin Y. Huang of the Department of East Asian Studies
Thursday, September 21st, 10-11am on Zoom

Conversation on Wuhan Punk and other short films
Speakers: Artist Chris Zhongtian Yuan and Professor Yi GU of the Department of Art History and the Department of Art, Culture, and Media
Thursday, September 21st, 6-7pm on Zoom


130 St George St, Toronto, ON M5S 1A5