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In true celebration of Asian Heritage Month, we’re excited to announce that filmmaker Keith Lock will be the first recipient of the Fire Horse Award! The $25,000 cash award is being presented annually to an Asian Canadian individual who has made an extraordinary contribution to the film and media-arts community.
Lock has been making experimental, documentary, and dramatic films since 1969 and is considered one of Canada’s first Chinese Canadian filmmakers. Lock’s experimental feature EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE AGAIN ALIVE (1975) was selected in 2020 by AGO Film Curator Jim Shedden as one of the “100 Best Canadian Films of All Time”. Lock collaborated as cinematographer on several Michael Snow films including TWO SIDES TO EVERY STORY (1974), which was selected as one of TIFF’s 150 Essential Works of Canadian Cinema.
As a leader and pioneer Lock was the founding Chair of the country’s first film co-op, the Toronto Filmmaker’s Co-op, which became LIFT (Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto). LIFT continues to operate as the largest artist-run media arts co-op in the country and just last year celebrated its 40th anniversary. Lock also founded “New Films”, the first regular screenings of independent and experimental films in Toronto, which led to the establishment of storied underground film film production and exhibition centre The Funnel in 1977.
Keith Lock will be presented with his award at a ceremony on May 31st hosted by Reel Asian.
“I’m thrilled to join Reel Asian in wholeheartedly supporting the Fire Horse Award,” said Sandra Oh. “By honouring trailblazers of the Asian Canadian media arts community, we are recognizing ourselves. It deeply matters who makes our images, and to these pioneers we owe a debt—and our promise to keep striving to tell our stories to the world. Let’s pause to celebrate those who blazed those trails—it’s beautiful and necessary. And I can’t wait for the next 25 years.”
Canadian film and television star Sandra Oh has committed $10,000 per year to the prize for the next five years. This contribution matches a generous lead donation from an anonymous donor. Ongoing contributions from the Reel Asian community will ensure the sustainability of the award for years to come.
Professor at University of Guelph
Elaine Chang is a media, cinema, and cultural studies professor at the University of Guelph and a practicing screenwriter and poet. Her most recent work includes an essay on teaching Asian North American mystery literature and cinema forthcoming from the Modern Language Association, feature screenplays for a comedy and a political thriller, and a scholarly monograph on literary adaptation for the screen.
Professor at OCAD University
Richard Fung is a video artist, writer and Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Art at OCAD University.
The Fire Horse Award recognizes one Asian Canadian member of the film and media-arts community. This member demonstrates qualities of the Chinese zodiac symbol in their work: Fire Horses are changemakers, creative thinkers, and visionary leaders who significantly impact the larger community. The award was created on the occasion of Reel Asian’s 25th Anniversary in 2021 to honour Reel Asian founder Anita Lee whose groundbreaking work and determination has made Reel Asian a staple in Canada’s festival landscape.