Johnny was born as Nan Ma, in Shanghai China, and immigrated to Toronto at the age of ten.
After careers in mergers and acquisitions in the business and fashion world, Johnny first made the move to documentary filmmaking in 2008. Graduating from Columbia University’s M.F.A. program in Directing/Screenwriting, Johnny has made short films that have screened at TIFF, Dallas International Film Festival, Aspen Shortfest and other international festivals, while receiving awards from DGA and National Board of Review as well a nomination for the Canadian Academy Awards.
He was the alum of the 2014 Sundance Institute Screenwriting/Directing Lab and winner of the Telefilm Canada Pitch This competition.
OLD STONE (Lao Shi/老石) was his first feature film, it was selected at Forum section of the Berlin international Film Festival in 2016. And it was named the winner of TIFF's award for Best Canadian First Feature Film.
His second feature-length project, TO LIVE TO SING (活着唱着), also set in China. It was screened in the Directors' Fortnight section at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.
TO LIVE TO SING (活着唱着)
- Cannes International Film Festival, Directors’ Fortnight, 2019
- Berlin International Film Festival, Forum, 2016
- Hong Kong International Film Festival, Competition, 2016
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