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Originally from Winnipeg, Deanna spent many years volunteering and working in the not-for-profit cultural arts sector in Winnipeg prior to moving to Toronto in 1996. She has sat on the boards of Dreamwalker Dance Company and the Regent Park Film Festival and has participated in various film and arts council juries over the years. Most recently, she was the administrative director at REEL CANADA, and previously served as Reel Asian’s executive director from 2005 to 2008.
Aram Siu Wai Collier
Head of Programming
Aram is a filmmaker, educator, and film festival programmer. Based in Toronto, Aram is a mixed race Asian Canadian/American (Chinese and English/Dutch/German) and a San Francisco native who has a BFA and MFA in Film Production from the University of California at Santa Cruz and York University respectively.
Festival & Operations Manager
Chris Chin has completed eighteen festivals with Reel Asian, having started out as a Front-of-House volunteer back in 2003. He has been an Associate Programmer at the Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film Festival and has worked and volunteered at other festivals including the Toronto International Film Festival, Images Festival, Calgary International Film Festival, and Frameline San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival. In addition to his festival commitments, he has provided event management and operations support to organizations including the Center for Asian American Media (SF), Pride Toronto, and the Canadian Film Centre. Chris sings with choir!choir!choir! and is always up for a night of karaoke.
Marketing & Communications Manager
One of Christine’s first jobs was presenting sneak-peek screenings of summer blockbusters for Citytv Edmonton. She also hosted the movie reviews segment for Breakfast Television and moved on to becoming a video journalist in Vancouver at Shaw TV. Specializing in conceptualizing and creating content, she now joins the Reel Asian team after honing her marketing skills at places like NXNE and Momofuku. Christine is also an actor and writer.
At any point, you can probably find Kelly with a camera in hand. She resonates with both photography and film as an active medium and accessible space to reclaim archive and documentation. She is a graduate from the Masters of Environmental Studies program at York University with research on placemaking, spaces of intimacy, citizenship and storytelling through food. Her favourite food is any kind of noodle soup.
Education & Industry Programmer
Jasmine Gui (@jaziimun) is a Singaporean-born interdisciplinary artist and programmer living and working in Tkaronto. She is co-founder of TACLA, founder of Project 40 Collective and managing editor at LooseLeaf magazine. Her work includes two chapbooks and writing featured in sineTheta, GUTS, The Spectatorial, Panorama Journal, Hart House Review amongst others. She did her MA in English, Diaspora and Transnational Studies at the University of Toronto. Outside of the arts, she is widely known as a tea lady.
Atif is the project manager of Codes of Contact. These days you can find him sitting and thinking. Hailing from the community of Rexdale, his interests are expansive from community arts to magic realism to surveillance studies. He holds an MA in Human Geography and South Asian Studies at the University of Toronto. Alongside the sitting and thinking, he is an emerging interdisciplinary artist.
Programmer & Community Outreach
Mariam Zaidi is a South Asian filmmaker and arts manager based in Toronto. Zaidi’s work has been funded and supported by the CBC, LIFT, TAC, OAC, Canada Council for the Arts, BravoFACT! FACTOR Canada, and the NFB. Alongside her independent film work and programming at Reel Asian, Zaidi is currently Associate Programmer at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival and Executive Director at the Breakthroughs Film Festival.
Based in Toronto and Seoul, June is a film festival enthusiast and a subtitle translator. She has a long history with Reel Asian starting with her internship at the festival during her undergrad years at the University of Toronto. After volunteering and interning at festivals such as Images, Hot Docs, TIFF Kids, and Toronto Singapore Film Festival, she co-founded the first Toronto Korean Film Festival in 2012. She has worked for Toronto International Film Festival and Udine Far East Film Festival, specializing in programming films from East Asia and Southeast Asia.
Monica Thi is a filmmaker, art director, editor, and creative director based in Toronto, Canada. She creates with the intention of visually articulating feelings and translating thoughts by designing conceptual worlds for the audience to exist in. Her films have been screened at festivals such as the New York City Women’s International Film Festival, The Toronto Film Review, screened at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, while also winning the Best Production Design Award and Best Editing Award at Cinesiege hosted at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema. Her published work has also been featured in Local Wolves, Mimp Magazine, and A Title Magazine.
Communications & Marketing Coordinator
Cecilia’s love of film began in childhood when her father brought her along to watch foreign films every weekend. Prior to her role at Reel Asian, she had worked as the Community Partnerships Coordinator at Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film Festival and spent time working abroad in Southeast Asia. Cecilia has a BFA in New Media from Ryerson University and recently completed her post-graduate studies in Arts Administration and Cultural Management at Humber College.
Reel Ideas Coordinator
Samir is a screenwriter, educator, and film festival coordinator based in Toronto. His love for character-driven cinema drove him to study Media Production at Ryerson University, so that he could learn to write television series with characters he wished he’d seen growing up. After completing the Kids’ TV Writing Bootcamp hosted by BIPOC TV and Film, Samir was hired to work on his first pre-school series. He was chosen to pitch his original tween animated series at the 2021 BANFF World Media Festival as a Netflix-BANFF Voices of Diversity recipient. His work in kids’ animation allows him to explore issues of empathy, social perspective, and the complex emotions children are faced with. After internships in scripted TV development at Rogers Media and Boat Rocker Media, Samir’s interest in programming grew. He is determined to help develop the voices of Asian storytellers and give the community opportunities to showcase their films with Reel Asian. Fun fact: Samir grew up on a tiny island called Mayotte and has swam next to a pod of dolphins.
Unsung Voices Coordinator
Jennifer got her start in filmmaking through Reel Asian’s Unsung Voices program in 2016. Since then, she has gone on to participate in the DOC Institute’s New Visions Incubator and made her second short film, Wave Hands Like Clouds, with the Festival of Recorded Movement. She is excited to be returning to Unsung Voices as a coordinator this year to support young filmmakers from across the country. Besides filmmaking, she likes photographing her suburban neighbourhood and thinking about the intersection of art and anthropology.
Unsung Voices Coordinator
Haaris Qadri is an emerging filmmaker based in Toronto and New York. He aims to create meaningful stories featuring characters that are often unrepresented; focusing on those mundane moments that spark emotion and change. Being born in New York and raised in Toronto to Pakistani parents, Haaris is drawn to diasporic stories, contemplating questions of identity, home and belonging. Haaris is a graduate from York University’s Bachelors of Fine Arts in Film Production Specialized Honours. His short film, Kashif, premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Reel Asian Film Festival, screened at the 2020 TIFF Next Wave Film Festival and most recently at the Academy Award qualifying 2020 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.
Born in Milwaukee, USA, raised in London Ontario, Sarah is an eldest immigrant daughter of Malay-Palestinian descent. Her lived experience as a mixed-race diasporic woman foster her passion for cross-cultural exchange and intersectional solidarity building through storytelling. While living in London, Sarah founded OESC, an equity advocacy group, in 2017, managed a municipal campaign in 2018, and produced Code\Switch, a web series in 2019. Sarah joined the Reel Asian community as part of the Youth Critics Initiative cohort in 2020 and became a member of the Shorts Programming committee. Sarah is the Executive Director of the London School of Racialized Leaders, an initiative founded in response to the tragedy against a Muslim family in June 2021 and is a consultant for On Canada Project.
Samyuktha is an Indo-Canadian writer and emerging filmmaker based in Toronto. As a lifelong consumer and creator of cinema and literature, with a formal education in neuroscience, she has always felt at home at the intersection of seemingly disparate fields. In her work, she seeks to explore the spaces where different worlds collide, our shifting relationship with time and memory, and the experiences of uprooted lives – whether they be immigrants crossing borders into foreign cultures or young people grappling with their identity and the weight of expectation. She holds an Honours Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Toronto.
Sanjay Parker (he/him) is a digital media producer and is joining Reel Asian for his third festival. You can find him directing live broadcasts, selling you with google ads, and creating still, video, and audio content. You’ll know he likes you if he gives you a nickname. You can find out more about him here.
Accessibility Coordinator & Consultant
Cara Eastcott is an independent cultural programmer and multidisciplinary arts producer in Toronto. Cara also works as an arts consultant, supporting arts organizations in making their work more accessible for people with disabilities and Deaf people.
Accreditations Coordinator & Box Office Manager
Nicolas is a recent graduate of the University of Toronto, where he holds a Cinema Studies Specialist and a Human Geography Minor. His academic research explores the representation of urban landscape processes as they play out across cinematic spaces. Nick has immersed himself in Toronto’s film festival landscape, and has volunteered and worked for numerous other festivals including TIFF and Inside Out LGBT Film Festival. Besides film festivals, Nicolas has delved into other creative outlets such as photography, painting, and screenwriting.
Digital Production Coordinator
Josephine Cruz is a DJ, creative producer and community enthusiast based in Toronto. Born in England, Josephine has also lived in Calgary and Hong Kong, and credits her global upbringing for her curious nature and love of different cuisines. She has worked with a diverse group of global brands including Complex, Red Bull, and StockX on content and experiential campaigns, both IRL and URL. In her spare time, Josephine runs the community-driven online radio station ISO Radio.