Riceboy Sleeps

The 2023 CFTCA Best Cascadian Film Award Winner: Riceboy Sleeps

After tabulating the votes, this year’s winner of the Best Cascadian Film is Riceboy Sleeps, written, produced, edited, and directed by Anthony Shim. As outlined in our announcement of the nominees, we here at the CFTCA have made it a mandate to celebrate films from our own backyard. For 2023, this includes British Columbia, Canada and Washington State, USA. To be eligible for the Best Cascadian Film, a film needs to be set in Cascadia, it needs to be shot in Cascadia and needs to be directed by someone who hails from or calls Cascadia home. The film must also have been released in the region during our qualifying period. Not every box needs to be checked to be eligible, but as long as most of them are, and the film feels sufficiently Cascadian enough, it is allowed.

Riceboy Sleeps

Riceboy Sleeps, despite screening during the 2022 Vancouver International Film Festival, was released wide in Canadian cinemas in March 2023. The film was written and directed by Anthony Shim who was born in Seoul, South Korea, but immigrated to Coquitlam, British Columbia and now calls Vancouver his home base. The film was shot in Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge, BC and in South Korea as well. The story is about a widowed single mother, who moves from Korea to Canada to help get a better life for her young son. As the son grows up, with limited understanding of his home country, the duo decide to return to Korea to help him connect with his deceased fathers family. 

The film shows off the immigrant experience in a way that is both fresh and vital. It tells a story about what makes Canada such a great place to live in, while not ignoring the struggles new residents and citizens experience. So-Young, the mother, experiences loneliness as she struggles with the language barrier and relishes when another Korean woman starts working at the same factory she does. Dong-Hyun, the son, gets made fun of for how he looks and the food he eats, which differs from that of his white schoolmates.

Eventually So-Young and Dong-Hyun develop a strong footing and proudly make the suburbs of Vancouver their home. In the second half of the film, they travel to the hometown of So-Young’s deceased husband, where his family still lives. There, Dong-Hyun is gifted artefacts his father owned, including his military-issued jacket and photographs. By forging a relationship with his grandparents and uncle, he is able to view himself as whole, connecting his two worlds. 

Anthony Shim has crafted a loving and touching film about the two places he calls home. The film features staggering performances from Choi Seung-yoon as So-Young, Dohyun Noel Hwang and Ethan Hwang as young and teenage Dong-Hyun, respectively, an appearance from Shim himself as Simon, and more.  We reached out to Mr Shim to inform him of our selection; he offered this comment in response.

“I want to thank the members of the Cascadia Film & TV Critics Association for this award. I’m touched and honored to be acknowledged by members of the film industry from my own community like this. Riceboy Sleeps was set and shot in the outskirts of Vancouver; the setting played such an integral role in the film and I’m so grateful to have been able to shoot in the places we did. I hope to make many more films in our beautiful British Columbia with all of the incredibly talented artists that we have for years to come. Thank you.”

Anthony Shim
Anthony Shim
Photo by Norman Wong

We are proud to announce Riceboy Sleeps as the inaugural winner of the Best Cascadian Film award.

For more coverage of the film, check out work from our members.