Reel Asian Fire Horse Award

Named and conceived in honour of Reel Asian’s founder and trailblazing producer Anita Lee, whose lunar zodiac sign is the Fire Horse, the $25,000 award will be presented to an accomplished individual in the media arts and/or screen-based industries who has dedicated their energy and talents to breaking down barriers, uplifting Asian Canadian communities, and sparking cultural change. Previous recipients include Keith Lock and Mary Stephen. Reel Asian would like to thank the Fire Horse Award’s lead donors, Lap Chan and Ha-kyung Helen Song and Sandra Oh; and major donor Pan Asia Food Co., Ltd., without whom this award would not be possible. Ongoing contributions from the Reel Asian community will ensure the sustainability of the award for years to come.

On May 23, 2024, Reel Asian held its third annual Fire Horse Award Luncheon & Fundraiser, celebrating the interdisciplinary media artist Paul Wong.

With a career spanning over five decades, Wong is an award-winning artist and curator known for pioneering early visual and media art in Canada. He founded several artist-run groups, including the Satellite Video Exchange Society (now VIVO Media Arts Centre) and A-Space Video (now Charles Street Video). Since the 1970s, he has organized numerous exhibitions, events, festivals, conferences, and public interventions. Among his pivotal exhibitions are YELLOW PERIL: RECONSIDERED, FIVE OCTAVE RANGE, and OCCUPYING CHINATOWN.

During his acceptance speech, Paul shared both challenges and formative moments that shaped his career. He did not hesitate to acknowledge his nominators, the Rt. Hon. Adrienne Clarkson, VTape founders Kim Tomczak and Lisa Steele, and this year’s jury members: filmmakers Ali Kazimi and the inaugural Fire Horse Award recipient Keith Lock, and journalist and podcaster Hannah Sung.

He expressed gratitude for the journey and connections he made along the way saying, “My journey as an artist has been shaped by sharing ideas with hundreds of narrowcast screenings to audiences around the world. It was always my hope that at least one person at every screening would walk away shifted.

It has been an adventure of detours, setbacks, and incredible successes. Above all, it has been a journey of connections with others building communities. I am grateful to the village of creatives I have worked with. Thank you for the trust to just say yes to my madness.

This award is a recognition of the importance of experimental art. Art that challenges norms pushes boundaries and invites viewers to see the world through a different lens. May we continue to evolve, to take risks, embrace the unknown, and forge new paths together.”

Wong embodies the spirit of the Fire Horse with his steadfast creativity, embrace of the unconventional, and ability to make the invisible visible. His tireless community work, activism, and advocacy have impacted the broader Asian Canadian community. Reel Asian is honoured to present him with the third annual Fire Horse Award.