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Paul Wong receives 2024 Fire Horse Award

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. We are truly honoured to present him with the third annual Fire Horse Award.

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The Fire Horse Award honours an Asian Canadian individual who has made an extraordinary contribution to the film and media arts community. It was established on the occasion of Reel Asian’s 25th Anniversary in 2021 in the name of Reel Asian founder Anita Lee, whose groundbreaking work and determination have made Reel Asian a staple in Canada’s festival landscape.

Watch Paul Wong’s tribute video below.

Producer/Director: Nobu Adilman
Editor/Post-production: Byron Wong, Zero11Zero
‘Paul Wong: In Motion’ clips courtesy of Philippe Hamelin

Watch Paul Wong’s acceptance speech below.

View all speeches from the 2024 Fire Horse Award Ceremony here.

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