Nominations for the Fire Horse Award are closed

In 2021, the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival proudly established the Fire Horse Award on the occasion of Reel Asian’s 25th anniversary. In doing so, we envisioned an annual prize recognizing an Asian Canadian in the media arts or screen-based industries who has dedicated their energy and talents to breaking down barriers, uplifting Asian Canadian communities, and sparking cultural change.

The award is named in honour of Reel Asian founder and longtime champion Anita Lee, Chief Programming Officer at the Toronto International Film Festival and member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Fire Horse is Anita’s Asian Zodiac sign, and members of the Reel Asian community wanted to recognize her pioneering vision and transformative leadership over the years. During her near two-decade tenure from 2014 to 2022 as Executive Producer of the Ontario Studio of the NFB, she presided over unprecedented support for projects from BIPOC communities.

People born in the Year of the Fire Horse are said to be changemakers, original and creative thinkers, and passionate visionary leaders. The Fire Horse Award recognizes trailblazers in the Asian Canadian media arts or screen-based industries who have demonstrated leadership, excellence and innovation in their own work, while inspiring and invigorating the Asian Canadian media arts ecosystem through mentorship, volunteerism or other forms of community service.

The Fire Horse Award recipient will be presented
with a
$25,000 cash prize at an awards ceremony
hosted by Reel Asian on May 31.
The award winner will be announced during
Asian Heritage Month

In keeping with the spirit of the award, Reel Asian reached out to the community for nominations. To have been considered for the Fire Horse Award, nominees must:

  • Identify as Asian Canadian and be a citizen or permanent resident of Canada.
  • Have a significant body of work or career achievements in the media arts or screen-based industries.
  • Have actively contributed to the media art or screen-based industries either as creators (e.g. filmmakers, video artists, etc.); craftspeople (e.g. cinematographers, editors, etc.), actors, or other industry professionals (e.g. producers, programmers, organizers, distributors, etc.). 
  • Have contributed to uplifting or promoting Asian Canadian perspectives, stories, images and/or talent. 
  • Have demonstrated excellence in their own practice/field.
  • Have a demonstrated commitment to giving back to the community.
  • Exemplify the traits of the Fire Horse (i.e. trailblazers or changemakers, original and creative thinkers, and passionate, visionary leaders). 
  • Not be a current member of the Reel Asian staff, Board or Awards Committee.
  • Have not received the Fire Horse Award in a previous year.


Nominations are welcome from all members of the community with the exception of current Reel Asian staff or Board members and individuals participating in the adjudication process as jurors or moderators in the same year. Note that candidates may not self-nominate. 

Provide contact information for yourself (the nominator) and the person you are nominating (the nominee). Include name, pronouns, mailing address, email address, telephone number and website (if applicable).

A statement of a maximum of 1,000 words describing why you are nominating this individual and outlining how the nominee embodies the criteria for a Fire Horse Award recipient, specifically addressing the three assessment criteria listed below. 

An up-to-date professional curriculum vitae of the nominee, emphasising their achievements in the media arts or screen-based industries.

Up to five links or attachments of audio-visual or written support material illustrating the achievements of the nominee. Support materials may include video links to film/video/television productions, press clippings/reviews, catalogue excerpts, support letters, etc. In the case of video links, jurors will watch up to 3 minutes of each video link as per the instructions below.

A brief (2-3 line) description of each piece of support material provided and how it supports the nomination. If you are including video links to film/video/television productions, please indicate the nominee’s role on each production, and provide time cues for the three-minute excerpt that you would like the jury to watch. (If no time cue is provided, the jury will view the first few minutes.) 

*Note that audiovisual material is not necessarily required for nominees who are media arts or screen-based industry professionals working in non-creative roles.


Nominations are shortlisted by a nomination committee and reviewed by an independent jury of media arts and screen-based industry peers who will select the award winner. Nominees will be assessed using the following assessment criteria: 

Excellence and contribution of nominee’s work/practice in the media arts or screen-based industries, as evidenced by the substance of their work and career achievements.
Extent to which nominee has invigorated the Asian Canadian media arts or screen-based sector through promoting and uplifting Asian Canadian perspectives, stories, images and/or talent professionally and/or through community service (e.g. mentorship, volunteerism, etc.).
Extent to which nominee embodies the traits of the Fire Horse (i.e. trailblazers or changemakers, original and creative thinkers, and passionate, visionary leaders).

If you have any questions about nominating someone, or for more information on the Fire Horse Award, please contact firehorse@reelasian.com.

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