Introducing the 2022 Fire Horse Award Recipient

Keith Lock

Keith Lock photographed by Mike Tjioe

Keith Lock, MFA York University, is a filmmaker who works in both experimental as well as dramatic and documentary films. He is also Canada’s first Chinese Canadian filmmaker. Keith has worked as Claude Jutra’s assistant, he was also Michael Snow’s cinematographer on several projects, including Two Sides to Every Story, selected one of TIFF’s 150 Essential Works of Canadian Cinema. He was a founding member and first Chair of the Toronto Filmmaker’s Co-op, Canada’s first film co-op, which later became LIFT. He also founded “New Films”, the first regular screenings of independent and experimental films in Toronto, which later became The Funnel.

Keith Lock’s high school film, Flights of Frenzy, won the Best Super 8 award at the UNESCO 10th Muse International, Amsterdam,1969. His experimental feature, Everything Everywhere Again Alive, 1975, screened in TIFF’s Retrospective of Canadian Cinema,1984. A Brighter Moon, received a Gemini Award Nomination for Best Short Drama, 1987, and a standing ovation at the New York Asian American Film Festival. Keith was the first recipient of the Chinese Canadian National Council’s Media Applause Award in 1998. The Road Chosen: The Lem Wong Story, received the NFB Innoversity Conference Award, 2002. The Dreaming House, 2005, received Best GTA Filmmaker Award at the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival.

More recently, Keith was the featured artist at 8 Fest Toronto, 2016. He created a 360 Virtual Reality prototype for the NFB, The Secret, 2017. His experimental feature, Everything Everywhere Again Alive, was selected one of “100 Best Canadian Films of All Time” by AGO Film Curator, Jim Shedden, 2020.

Currently, he is Executive Producer of a feature film now in production, Café Daughter. He also has an experimental documentary in production, A Film About Love and War, about his father’s experiences during World War Two, as part of Operation Oblivion.

Fire Horse Award Jury

Ana Serrano
President & Vice-Chancellor, OCAD University

An innovator and global visionary leader in digital media, President Serrano has a strong sense of the value of art and design education and research coupled with a record of success effectively managing financial resources and high-performing teams. She has also been an adjunct professor at OCAD U, advising students in the Digital Futures graduate program, and led the formation of a CFC/OCAD U partnership that began in 2011.

Winner of the 2021 Crystal Award for Digital Trailblazer, an honour bestowed by Women in Film & Television Toronto, and winner of the Digital Media Trailblazing Award at the 2016 Canadian Screen Awards from the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, she brings more than 20 years of experience building award-winning digital experiences, securing public and private sector investment, creating strategic alliances and starting new ventures.

Before coming to OCAD U, she was the Chief Digital Officer of the Canadian Film Centre and launched several unique Canadian start-up accelerators including IDEABOOST, Canada’s first digital entertainment accelerator, with founding partners Shaw Media, Corus Entertainment and Google. An avid volunteer, she is member of numerous boards including Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Open Democracy Project and Toronto Arts Council.

Radheyan Simonpillai
Acting Editor, NOW Magazine / film critic at CTV's Your Morning

Radheyan Simonpillai is NOW Magazine’s acting editor, the film critic for national breakfast show Your Morning on CTV and a pop culture columnist for CBC Radio. Rad also has a Friday Flicks segment on CTV News Channel and contributes to The Guardian.

Warren P. Sonoda
National President, Directors Guild of Canada, BAFTA- and CSA-winning filmmaker

BAFTA and CSA-winning, double Emmy-nominated filmmaker Warren P. Sonoda has directed over 90 episodes of television including Trailer Park Boys, Ghostwriter, Utopia Falls, Murdoch Mysteries, This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Odd Squad and just finished 2 episodes of SyFy’s hit series Resident Alien for Amblin/Universal; 11 feature films including Things I Do For Money, Swearnet: The Movie and Coopers Camera; over 160 music videos which garnered 4 MuchMusic Video Awards, 2 ECMAs and 2 CCMAs; he’s received a medal from the Queen, knocked Martin Scorsese out of the Guinness Book of World Records, sits on the boards of BIPOC TV & Film and the Canadian Film Fest, is the first person of colour to be National President of the Directors Guild of Canada and failed Ryerson film school, twice. He lives with his wife Jen Pogue and their rescue dog Scruffie in Toronto, Ontario or at their Sunshack cottage on Lake Cordova.

2022 Fire Horse Award

This is a story about an Asian Canadian trailblazer. 

She was born in the Asian zodiac year of Fire Horse – a year that symbolizes fierceness, independent spirit, and determination. Her parents worried that the first horse element was too aggressive for a woman, and so they changed her birth year in her birth certificate. 

Growing up, she didn’t know any of this. But ironically, she went on to pursue her career with all the symbolic qualities of a fire horse. 

She found her love in filmmaking and later mentoring other filmmakers. She became one of the first Asian Canadian producers working at the National Film Board of Canada. 

In the late 90s, she was traveling the Asian film festival circuit in the U.S, and a seed grew in her mind: how could she build a similar hub for Asian filmmakers in Canada?

Yes. You’ve probably guessed it by now. This is the story of Reel Asian’s founder, TIFF’s Chief Programming Officer, and former Executive Producer of the National Film Board of Canada’s Ontario Studio, Anita Lee. Anita Lee’s story and legacy is inspiring because it tells us what is possible for BIPOC filmmakers and media creators in this country. It also tells us what happens after BIPOC filmmakers accomplish success and reach leadership positions – they become creators and mentors for the future generations. 

We need more Anitas in the Canadian media arts landscape to brace new trails and provide opportunities Anita had put the fire horse spirit in Reel Asian’s DNA. And this year, at the 25th anniversary juncture of Reel Asian, we want to celebrate that spirit.

On the occasion of the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival’s 25th anniversary, the festival will establish the Fire Horse Award in honour of Anita Lee, Reel Asian founder and Executive Producer of the National Film Board of Canada’s Ontario Studio. Signifying the beginning of a new and exciting chapter for Asian Canadian media arts, the Fire Horse Award will recognize an Asian-Canadian member of the film and media arts community who has blazed a trail for others to follow, whose work has been transformational, representational and inspiring.

The name of the award was inspired by Anita’s story — according to the Asian zodiac, she was born in the year of the fire horse, which only occurs once every 60 years. People born in those years are said to be change makers: original and creative thinkers, independent and mission-driven leaders.

The Fire Horse Award will recognize the award recipient’s remarkable body of work and its significant impact on the larger community, and anticipation of future contributions to the fields of film, television, media arts, and other screen-based practices, which have a powerful influence on how Asians see ourselves and how others see us—making the support of authentic voices vital.

We’re currently raising funds for the inaugural award and invite you to make a donation to support this cause. 

All donors will receive a full tax receipt* and receive recognition on the Fire Horse Award page.

*Reel Asian is a registered charity based in Canada. The tax receipt issued by Reel Asian can only be used for the Canadian tax reporting purpose. For international donors, a gift acknowledgement receipt is available upon request for gift $100 CAD+. Please contact development@reelasian.com should you have any questions or request. 

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