Toronto, ON – On Wednesday night, the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival kicked off its 12-day festival (November 8-19) with a special red carpet presentation of a light-hearted coming-of-age queer-themed feature about a mother and daughter’s relationship set in Toronto and Karachi, directed by Fawzia Mirza.
During opening remarks, Reel Asian acknowledged the $72,800 Resilience Communities Fund grant received from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) last year that was used to sustain its fundraising infrastructure for its partnership and membership programs by helping with staffing costs — as these are two key revenue streams that help fund programming for the festival and year-round.
“As a representative committed to fostering cultural diversity and artistic expression, I extend my heartfelt congratulations to the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival for their remarkable achievement in securing the Resilient Communities Fund grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation,” said Kristyn Wong-Tam, MPP for Toronto Centre. “Through their strategic use of this grant, the festival has further fortified its role in supporting and amplifying the voices of Asian Canadian filmmakers. Their dedication to nurturing a diverse audience and generating enthusiasm for independent Asian artists’ work is essential for cultural enrichment in Canada. Congratulations!”
“The need for this grant to sustain our fundraising efforts cannot be overstated,” said Deanna Wong, Executive Director, Reel Asian. “Now, when we need our stories more than ever, support for media arts festivals like ours has shrunk. But we won’t let this situation stop us from bringing you, our audience, another lineup of films that will speak to your own experiences, or introduce you to new ones. Our loyal partners, members, and donors have demonstrated that there is still a desire to support great storytelling and the celebration of diverse voices.”
The festival is also pleased to announce the election of Julie Chang and Shaheen Ali as the new Chair and Vice-Chair, respectively, of its Board of Directors, effective immediately. Chang and Ali have served on the Reel Asian board since April 2023 alongside outgoing board co-chairs Austin Wong (Head of Legal & Business Affairs, Wattpad WEBTOON Studios) and Jennifer Shin (Director of Development, Comedy, CBC Scripted). Both Wong and Shin are departing from the board after having served two terms, in January 2024. “We are grateful as co-chairs to have had the opportunity to bridge connections between Reel Asian and artists to participate in industry initiatives. Like with anyone who comes through Reel Asian, this is not goodbye and we look forward to coming back every year as family of the festival,” said Austin Wong. “Within 6 years I witnessed Reel Asian pivot to a digital festival during a pandemic, launch a $25,000 award, and retain the same staff year after year — all the while being a platform of hope and inspiration for Asian creatives and community,” said Shin, who co-chaired the board with Austin Wong over the past 3 years.
As the new chair, Chang will oversee the next period of exciting change.
Reel Asian remains committed to bringing you diverse, thought-provoking films, workshops, panels, exhibitions and more to create space and amplify Asian artists.
See our Flickr for photos from Opening Night.