Awards Ceremony

75 minEnglish

Each year, Reel Asian celebrates Asian talent with awards for features and short films. Juried by distinguished creatives, filmmakers and industry professionals, these awards speak to the brilliant talent within our communities and the meaningful impact these stories leave with our audiences. This year, you're invited to join co-hosts Lainey Lui and Angela Sun as they reveal the award winners for the 24th Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival. So, get your drinks ready and tune in to find out who the award winners are for this edition!

Co-Hosts

Lainey Lui

Co-host of CTV’s THE SOCIAL, ETALK anchor, and scribe of the immensely popular celebrity gossip blog, LaineyGossip.com, Lainey Lui does what she does for one reason – to provide a gossip education to the Canadian public. Lui is regularly called upon as a celebrity expert by media outlets worldwide and has covered The Oscars, The Golden Globes, The Olympics, and Royal weddings.

Angela Sun

Angela Sun is a mad, fat, first generation/ settler theatre performer, creator, producer, arts administrator, and writer of Chinese descent. She has previously performed in or co-created works for Koffler.Digital (Koffler Centre of the Arts), The Bentway, the Gardiner Museum, and the Art Gallery of Ontario; as well as the Toronto Fringe Festival, the Hamilton Fringe Festival, SummerWorks Performance Festival, Paprika Festival, and the InspiraTO Festival.

13 Nov, 2020 4:00 pm

to 5:15 pm

Free event with ASL interpretation made available thanks to Toronto Sign Language Interpreter Services.

Awards & Eligibility

Osler Best Feature Film Award

All feature works are eligible for this prize. $,1500 cash prize.

CineSend Best First Feature Award

All first feature films are eligible for this prize. $1,000 cash prize.

The Truth to Power Award

All documentary films are eligible for this $1,250 cash prize, donated by Karla Bobadilla, Diang Iu, Immanuel Lanzaderas, Sonia Sakamoto-Jog and Victoria Shen.

Change Connect Award

All films made by 30 & under artists are eligible for this prize. $500 cash prize.

National Film Board of Canada Best Canadian Short Film Award (Emerging)

All short works made by emerging Canadian artist (fewer than 4 films) are eligible for this prize of post-production services, $5,000 value.

Air Canada Short Film or Video Award

All Canadian short films and videos are eligible for this prize. Opportunity to broadcast on Air Canada’s in-flight entertainment screens on international flights.

Animasian Award

All animated works are eligible for this prize. $600 cash prize.

WIFT-T Film Award

All films made by female-identified Ontario-based artists are eligible for this prize. $500 in programming gift certificates and one-year membership to WIFT-T.

Features Jury Committee

Carrianne Leung

Carrianne Leung is a fiction writer and educator. Her debut novel, The Wondrous Woo was shortlisted for the 2014 Toronto Book Awards. Her collection stories, That Time I Loved You was named one of CBC’s Best Books of 2018.She is currently working on a new novel, titled The After.

Melissa Bisagni

Melissa Bisagni is the Media Initiatives Program Manager at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), in Washington, DC. She was previously the Director of Programming for the DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival where she is a senior advisor. 

Danis Goulet

Danis Goulet is a writer and director. Her films have screened at Berlin, Sundance and the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). She is a former programmer for TIFF and a former director of the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival. Her debut feature NIGHT RAIDERS is currently in post production.

*All decisions made by the juries are final and binding and not subject to appeal.

Shorts Jury Committee

Mandeq Hassan

Mandeq Hassan has spent years working extensively in the film industry. Hassan has been a key member of the Toronto-based distribution company Sisterhood Media and her credits include popular works Gay Mean Girls and The Regent Park Project. She received the 2019 Director’s Guild of Canada New Visions Award.

Ammar Keshodia

Ammar Keshodia is a filmmaker and curator. He has worked on the programming teams for festivals such as TIFF, SXSW, and Overlook. In 2019, he served as the Lead Programmer at Reelworld Film Festival. He has written for publications such as Bright Wall/Dark Room, NANG Magazine, and Peephole Journal.

Fransiska Prihadi

Fransiska Prihadi is an architect, co-founder of art-house cinema MASH Denpasar and has been the program director of Minikino Film Week, Bali International Short Film Festival since 2015. She is now working on her research thesis about international short film festivals for her Master of Tourism Studies at Udayana University.

Down a Dark Stairwell: Special Screening and Live Panel

USA202083 minEnglish, Cantonese, Mandarin with English SubtitlesDocumentary, Women Filmmakers

Only Available in Ontario

Down a Dark Stairwell takes a nuanced and careful look at the events following the 2014 case where Akai Gurley was shot and killed in the stairwell of an apartment building by Chinese-American NYPD officer Peter Liang.

Director Ursula Liang (no relation to Peter) and her crew follow the Black Lives Matter protests rallying around Gurley’s family to support a conviction, while also following various predominantly Asian American communities’ protest responses to what they deem an unfair trial.

In our current context of urgent calls for accountability around excessive police violence, Down A Dark Stairwell’s raw and honest witness to the ways racial politics fissure and divide us feels timely and necessary. In documenting multiple communities’ response to every new development from the event, the film contends with how fraught and limited notions of justice can be, and the devastating violence that the policing system inflicts on Black communities.

- Jasmine Gui

Recognitions

OFFICIAL SELECTIONS
True/False Film Festival, 2020
Visions du Réel, 2020
Blackstar Film Festival, 2020

AWARDS
Best Documentary, Ashland Independent Film Festival 2020

Director Bio

Ursula Liang

Ursula Liang is a journalist-turned-filmmaker. After working in print (ESPN The Magazine, T: The New York Times Magazine), she directed two critically-acclaimed feature documentaries, 9-Man and Down a Dark Stairwell. Ursula lives in the Bronx, N.Y.

12 Nov, 2020 7:00 pm

to 13 Nov, 2020 7:00 pm

Live Panel Discussion, November 12 at 8:45PM

REGISTER FOR FREE TICKET

With Support From

Live panel discussion with special guests

Accompanying our opening night screening presentation of Down a Dark Stairwell is a live online discussion with special guests.

ASL interpretation supported and made available by Toronto Sign Language Interpreter Services. Active listener available from 8:30PM – 11:30PM.

November 12, 2020 at 8:45PM

Syrus Marcus Ware
Activist and artist

Syrus Marcus Ware is a Vanier scholar, visual artist, activist, curator and educator. Syrus uses painting, installation and performance to explore social justice frameworks and black activist culture. He is part of the Performance Disability Art Collective and a core-team member of Black Lives Matter – Toronto. 

Ursula Liang
Director, Down A Dark Stairwell

Ursula Liang is a journalist-turned-filmmaker. After working in print (ESPN The Magazine, T: The New York Times Magazine), she directed two critically-acclaimed feature documentaries, 9-Man and Down a Dark Stairwell. Ursula lives in the Bronx, N.Y.

J.M. Harper
Editor and co-writer, Down a Dark Stairwell

J.M. Harper is a documentarian. Down A Dark Stairwell is his third documentary feature as editor. He’s currently editing a feature documentary about Kanye West. His work has been featured on AdWeek, Vimeo Staff Picks, FADER and the Guggenheim.

Michelle Chang
Editor, Down a Dark Stairwell

Michelle Chang is a Brooklyn-based editor of documentary features as well as short form projects. Feature credits include When Claude Got Shot, Harbor From the Holocaust, 9-MAN, Like Any Other Kid, (A)Sexual, American Promise (Additional Editor for POV Broadcast, Emmy nomination). Before becoming an editor, Michelle was an associate producer for ABC News “20/20” and “Primetime.”

Director note:

This case captured the attention of national media and highlighted what we in our respective communities have known for a long time: we are not united. In fact, in low whispers with problematic language, we often talk about one another. But what we are not talking about is the many reasons why this space between us exists: bubbles created by social media filters and propaganda, white supremacy, structural oppression, social inequality and isolation.

I want to learn from these conversations. To look at how the complexities of this case reflect the complexities of our fight for humanity, agency and respect. To talk about whether the battles we fight bring us power or dissipate it. And to examine who really benefits when marginalized groups are divided.

- Ursula Liang

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Reel Asian is proud to present as its Closing Night event a live script read presentation of Scarborough, the anticipated forthcoming film by Reel Asian stalwart filmmaking duo of Shasha Nakhai and Rich Williamson. The film, an adaptation of Catherine Hernandez’ award-winning novel of the same name, follows three kids in a low-income neighbourhood who find community, compassion, and resilience at a drop-in literacy centre over the course of a school year.

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19 Nov, 2020 7:00 pm

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Featuring the cast of Scarborough

Liam Diaz
Cast as Bing

Liam Diaz is excited to be making his on-screen debut in his first movie role as Bing in Scarborough. He is an avid performer, and loves singing, dancing, and acting. He also enjoys expressing his artistic side through SFX makeup which he uses on his free time. His favourite stage role to date was playing the role of “young P.T Barnum” from the musical film, The Greatest Showman during the JDL Performing Arts summer showcase.

Ellie Posadas
Cast as Edna

Ellie Posadas is a Filipina-Canadian, Actor, Singer-Songwriter, and Creator from Toronto. She is a member of the award winning comedy group ‘Tita Collective’. Ellie is an alumni of Randolph Academy’s Musical Theatre program. She was featured in the 34th Torino Film Festival Official Selection, Wexford Plaza (CAAMfest, Slamdance) and is also featured in the short film The Morning After (Toronto Inside OUT Festival, Los Angeles OUT fest). Other selected Theatre/Film
credits include: Baby Blue Canoe (Wattpad productions), Tita Jokes (Tita Collective), The Penelopiad (Hart House), Emily & EV (Nöta Collective), Silenced (HERstory Counts), and Avenue Q (LOT).

Cherish Violet Blood
Cast as Marie

Cherish Violet Blood is an actor, storyteller, activist and Blackfoot woman hailing from the Blood reserve. Based in Toronto, Cherish is a professionally trained and seasoned performer with active followings in the national Indigenous and international theatre community. Cherish  has performed all over North America. Select credits include creator/performer in Material Witness (Spiderwoman Theatre La Mama,NYC), creator/performer in Making Treaty 7 directed by Michelle Thrush in Calgary, AB. The lead role in Deer Woman, a new play that has been touring internationally by Tara Beagan . As a natural comedian Cherish has hosted album release parties as well as community events and fundraisers.

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Alexis Hancey
Cast as Fern

Alexis Hancey is a Toronto based actress & screenwriter, best known for her role as Narrator in a widely popular/CBC-covered performance of Threepenny Opera at Humber College. She stars as Susan in PG: Psycho Goreman, a feature described by Variety magazine as “blowing the roof off (drive ins) where there was no roof,” and is currently developing a web series in which she plays an HSP patient who wasn’t actually fixed by therapy.

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ASL interpretation will be made available thanks to Toronto Sign Language Interpreter Services. Ticket holders can watch on the CineSend Reel Asian portal.

Shasha Nakhai
Director and Producer, Scarborough

Shasha Nakhai is a filmmaker from Toronto whose work has aired on the BBC, CBC, ZDF, and Arte; screened at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA); been nominated for 3 Canadian Screen Awards; and shortlisted for an Oscar. She recently released her first feature documentary, Take Light, which enters the tangled web of Nigeria’s energy crisis.

Rich Williamson
Director, Scarborough

Rich Williamson is an Oscar-shortlisted filmmaker from Toronto. His award-winning films have screened at festivals worldwide, aired on TV, been released on iTunes, gone viral, and featured on the BBC, CBC, Bravo, Arte, ZDF, Al Jazeera, Short of the Week, The Hollywood Reporter, AV Club, Slashfilm, Screenrant, Gizmodo, Mashable, Collider and Nerdist.

Catherine Hernandez
Writer, Scarborough

Catherine Hernandez is the award-winning author of Scarborough and its screenplay adaptation, and the outgoing artistic director of b current performing arts. She has written the critically acclaimed plays Singkil, The Femme Playlist and Eating with Lola and the children’s books M Is for Mustache: A Pride ABC Book and I Promise. Her second novel, Crosshairs, was published in September 2020.

Amar Wala
Moderator

Using his cinema to deconstruct notions of race and identity, Amar Wala has directed series for CBC, Viceland, and Shopify Studios. He directed the feature documentary The Secret Trial 5 and is currently director and consulting producer of CBC Arts series In The Making.

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