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Mary Stephen photographed by Lina Yang
Born in Hong Kong, Mary’s family immigrated to Canada where she finished high school and went to Loyola College of Concordia University for Communication Arts. Moving to Paris for graduate studies, Mary became French New Wave director Eric Rohmer’s film editor and occasional co-composer for several decades. In the last 15 years, she worked extensively with fiction and documentary filmmakers from several continents as film editor, associate-producer or script advisor. A partial list of these include Yoïchiro Okutani’s Nude At Heart, Japan-France coproduction for Arte; Ann Hui’s Love After Love (Venice Biennale 2020 Life Achievement Award), Our Time Will Come, Septet, a story of Hong Kong (Cannes 2020); Nicole Shafer’s Buddha In Africa (NHK Award); Tiffany Hsiung’s The Apology (Peabody Award); Seren Yüce’s Majority (Venice Lion of the Future); Du Haibin’s Umbrella, 1428 (Venice Biennale Orizzonti Doc Award), and A Young Patriot; Lixin Fan’s Last Train Home (IDFA Grand Prize); Li Yang’s Blind Mountain (Cannes Un Certain Regard) ; Hüseyin Karabey’s My Marlon and Brando (Tribeca Best New Director), and Do Not Forget Me Istanbul omnibus film with directors from the Baltic region: Hany Abou-Assad (Palestine), Aida Begic (Bosnia), Stefan Arsenijevic (Serbia), Stergios Niziris (Greece), Eric Nazarian ( Armenia)
Nominated for Golden Horse, Independent Eye, and HK and Turkish film awards, Mary also directs her own films, guest-teaches in institutions, takes part in juries and forums, and mentors young filmmakers in many countries. She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the French Académie des Césars, the CCE (Canadian Cinema Editors), the SOCAN and Rough Cut Service. She has been named Chevalier in the Order of Letters and Arts of the French Cultural Ministry in 2018.
“The jury celebrates Mary’s grit in building her illustrious career on an international stage despite the steep challenges faced by women, especially women of colour in the industry,” said Jury Members Ananya Ohri, Tiffany Hsiung and Nobu Adilman. “Her journey is an inspiration for future generations to dare and forge new professional and collaborative communities, globally. We celebrate her skill as a film editor and her generosity in nurturing Asian talent. We also acknowledge that Mary has occupied a supporting role, even when her contributions are considered defining to the art produced. The jury recognizes that the Fire Horse spirit of originality, creative thinking and trailblazing is not always drawn to the limelight. Mary Stephen embodies all these qualities and we are thrilled to draw back the curtain to celebrate her today as the Fire Horse Award recipient for 2023.”
Filmmaker, artist and co-founder of Choir!Choir!Choir!
Nobu Adilman is a Toronto artist who has worked in music, film, television, journalism, curating, podcasting and more. He’s best known as the Co-Founder of Choir! Choir! Choir!, an internationally renowned singing project that has performed at Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, and Newport Folk Festival. They have been featured on American Idol, CBS Weekend Edition, CBC’s The National, and CTV’s W5 and profiled in The New Yorker. They have shared the stage with David Byrne, Patti Smith, Kermit The Frog, Rick Astley, Patton Oswalt, Rufus Wainwright and many others. As a television maker, he co-created/produced and co-hosted the cooking/gadget show Food Jammers which had 40 episodes on Food Network Canada before being sold to USA’s Cooking Channel and broadcasters around the world. In 2006, he traveled across the U.S. in a short bus powered by vegetable oil to interview innovators of green technology for Discovery Science America’s thirteen-part series Invention Nation. Nobu sometimes gets recognized as Denis on the hit Canadian TV comedy series Trailer Park Boys, appearing with his brother Mio as the drug-dealing Flappy Bird Brothers. The brothers previously hosted two seasons of the CBC high school quiz show Smart Ask! and guest-hosted 16 episodes of the late-night CBC Arts program ZeD. Nobu got his start writing episodic television on shows like Emily Of New Moon and Cold Squad. But making no-budget short films is where his heart lives, telling heartfelt stories wrapped in some kind of ridiculousness. In 2020 he released his second solo record TAVIE, released on Arts & Crafts Records, and is currently working on a new one. Playing tennis and taking baths are his first and second favourite things to do.
Arts Administrator, Writer and Producer
Ananya is an arts administrator, writer and producer. She was the Executive Director at the Regent Park Film Festival for 7 years, where she had the privilege of founding the Lieutenant General Award winning storytelling and preservation project, Home Made Visible. Motivated by her experience programming for school aged children and consuming media alongside her own kids, Ananya is currently creating content for children that centres BIPOC narratives.
Tiffany Hsiung is a Peabody award-winning filmmaker and a two-time Canadian Screen Award winner based in Toronto, Canada. Her film ‘Sing Me a Lullaby’ (2020) won the Oscar qualifying Grand Jury Prize at DOC NYC and the inaugural Toronto International Film Festival ‘Share Her Journey Short Cuts Award’ during the world premiere at TIFF. ‘Sing Me a Lullaby’ went on to winning The Directors Guild of Canada Best Short Film Award followed by several accolades including two prizes at the annual WIFT- Showcase and listed as one of TIFF Canada’s Top Ten of 2020. Hsiung’s debut feature documentary ‘The Apology’ (2016) received over 15 international awards that includes the prestigious Peabody award, the DuPont Columbia Award and the Allan King Memorial Award. Hsiung’s work has played in over 150 film festivals earning over 25 awards, released and broadcasted globally. Hsiung currently sits as second-vice chair of the Directors Guild of Canada, Ontario Executive Board, she is board member at DOC Canada, Ontario and HOT DOCS executive board. Hsiung is also a member of the National BIPOC committee for the DGC.
The Fire Horse Award recognizes one Asian Canadian member of the film and media arts community. Created on Reel Asian’s 25th anniversary in 2021, this award honours Reel Asian founder Anita Lee whose groundbreaking work and determination have made Reel Asian a staple in Canada’s festival landscape.
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 accepting ongoing contributions to ensure the sustainability of the award for years to come. We 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 gifts of $100 CAD+. Please contact email@example.com should you have any questions or requests.