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Born as Ma Nan in Shanghai, Johnny immigrated to Toronto Canada at the age of ten.

A graduate from the film program at Columbia University in New York, Johnny is an alumni of the Sundance Institute Screenwriting and Director’s Lab as well as the Venice Biennale College Lab.

Johnny’s debut feature `Old Stone` world premiered in Berlin and was awarded Best Canadian First Feature Award at the Toronto International Film Festival and again at the Canadian Screen Awards (Canadian Academy).

'To Live To Sing', his follow up, premiered at the 2019 Director’s Fortnight in Cannes. 

In 2020, Ma was commissioned by Netflix to document life in isolation in HOMEMADE, a collection of short films created by filmmakers such as Rachel Morrisson, Kristen Stewart, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Nadine Lebaki - confined to their homes as the result of the COVID-19 outbreak.