Job title: Filmmaker and Arts Administrator
Why she’s a 2022 Top 40 Under 40: Vicki Van Chau is a champion for the arts community whose award-winning films explore Asian-Canadian stories from the prairies.
Vicki Van Chau is a natural director. In 2011, as the program director of Emmedia Gallery and Production Society, she led the organization out of a financial crisis that almost shut its doors, with the help of a newly elected board of directors and staff hires. In 2012, she helped launch the annual Particle + Wave Media Arts Festival, which showcases exhibits, screenings, and performances by local and national media artists, and is the only festival of its kind in Alberta.
Chau is also a director (and producer and screenwriter) of films that tell stories from her perspective of a second-generation Canadian.
“I am Chinese-Vietnamese, but I was born in Calgary, so I’m very different from people who were born in Asia,” Chau says. “I always wanted to make that distinction in my work, that the Asian diaspora in Canada is its own culture.”
In her award-winning films, Chau focuses on global themes through a local lens and highlights underrepresented stories. In Pulled Strings, a father teaches his daughter the art of hand-pulling noodles. In Off to the Races, Chau collaborated with the Calgary Chinese Orchestra to feature a contemporary arrangement of a traditional Chinese song, performed by 72 international musicians. “There can be stories told from a different perspective that’s not part of the Western genre and can include voices that are underrepresented here,” Chau says.
Her portfolio of films has earned Chau numerous accolades and awards — including the Lieutenant-Governor of Alberta’s Emerging Artist Award — for her efforts to promote cultural appreciation of Asian diaspora communities in the Prairies. “My films are often rooted in the Asian diaspora story which sometimes includes the immigrant story,” Chau says. “I want to provide a platform for those types of stories not normally heard.”
“Phil Bowen, my family, EMMEDIA and the Calgary arts community.”