The Youth Critics Initiative will be running again in 2023, in partnership with the 27th Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival!

Program Timeline

This year’s Youth Critics Initiative takes a slightly different format from previous years. In celebration of our 5th year of programming and from the lessons we’ve learned over the last 4 years, we are updating our model for this year.

Six critics will be selected and assigned to work with one of three mentors, who will also be their primary editor.
The program will feature communal digital meetings involving all mentors and participants and more intimate sessions between 1 mentor and 2 participants. Mentor profiles are available below.

Applicants will be required to produce a larger project of criticism featuring a mix of formats (examples include writing, collage, zines, mixed media, video essays, podcasts or anything else you might pitch) that covers a few films, events in the festival.

Participants will receive a festival pass to the 27th Toronto Reel Asian international Film Festival and a $150 honorarium upon successful completion of their work.

Deadline: end of day August 20th, 2023. (We will accept applications until 4 a.m. on August 21st.)
All applicants will be notified of their results by end of August.

Questions or any requests for accessibility support with the application process can be sent to!

Procrastination on a Spring Day
by Vince Ha
from “Lady Writing a Poem”, by the late Vietnamese artist
Mai Trung Thứ

Who can apply?

Applicants who identify as part of the Asian diaspora, aged 18 – 35 from all over Canada are able to apply with the pre-requisite that you are able to make the in-person Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival in November.

A note: TACLA is unfortunately not able to provide unlimited equipment to enable these projects to happen. Applicants who choose these formats will need to verify that they have the equipment to produce their own pieces (especially in the context of audio and video work).


Grayson Lee

keywords: martial arts, biopolitics, war, asia pacific, state violence, (anti)imperialism
mediums: collage, podcast (audio work), zines, comics, writing
link to sample work

Grayson is a doctoral candidate in the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto. His research looks at Transpacific empire and focuses upon the question of state power, legacies of the Cold War in Asia, and the development of South Korean technologies(products) of violence. He specializes in a variety of media and pop culture, such as kung fu and comics, and works with digital collage.

Jasmine Gui

keywords: post/decolonial, documentary, aesthetics, mixed media, biopolitics, affect
mediums: collage, blackout, video essay, comics, writing, exhibition, zines
link to sample work

Jasmine is a Singaporean-born interdisciplinary artist and a PhD student at York University in the English department, working in decolonial, diasporic literature and media. Her work uses a critical deconstructive reading, and rigorous writing / mixed media method. She is also the special projects programmer at the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival.

Vince Ha

keywords: fantasy, queer narratives, transnational/transcultural media
mediums: photography, filmmaking, curation, writing
link to sample work

Vince Ha is a writer-director who captures fragmentary moments and uses them to challenge issues of race, class, gender, and representation. As a mentor, he dedicates his efforts to helping young critics find their voices and sharing strategies to assist their writing anxiety. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Screen Cultures and Curatorial Studies at Queen’s University, where he investigates transnational media and its relationship with queer diasporic sociality, with particular attention to homoerotic representation in Asian cinema.


Sept 6: Session #1: Orientation & Hellos!

Sept 13: Session #2: with Vince Ha

Sept 27: Session #3: with Grayson Lee

Oct 4 – 23: Curriculum reading sessions with mentor

Oct 25: Session #4: Festival 101 (Tips & Tricks)

Nov 8-19: 27th Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival

Nov 22: Verbal pitches due

Nov 30: Session #5: Festival debrief

Dec 6: Written outlines due

Jan 10, 17 – Session #6 and 7: Writing Intensives with Jasmine Gui

Feb – March: Edit/Review meetings

March 6 – Session #8: Presentations

April: Layout

May: Publication in taclanese

*all session programming will be held online

Hear about the impetus for the Youth Critics Initiative here:

Youth Critics has successfully produced four cohorts of writers and we are incredibly proud of the work that our critics have put in to engage, wrestle with and think through art being produced by other members of the communities we claim belonging to.

Critical engagement for us is relational. We have witnessed the impact of critical literacy and community engagement in the ways we nurture nuanced dialogue and creation. Documenting these conversations allows us to build frames to better understand the evolving perspectives in larger socio-cultural atmospheres and movements. Documentation also generates archival material, and a thoughtful genealogy for the Asian Canadian creative community.

Past Posters

Youth Critics Initiative 4
Poster by Jasmine Gui
Cornflower Rain
Youth Critics Initiative 3
Poster by Grayson Lee
Cruel Reflection: Angel’s thesis on destroying the white neon future
Youth Critics Initiative 2
Poster by Özge Dilan Arslan
All Images taken from Toronto Star Archives