Interview with Ashley McKenzie, Queens of the Qing Dynasty writer and director

Years ago when Ashley McKenzie was helping put together a student film festival at Saint Mary’s University she asked me to be on an awards jury. I couldn’t tell you what year that was, but that’s where we first met.

It’s been an absolute delight to see McKenzie find her voice as a filmmaker in the years since.

Her debut, Werewolf, was the rare Nova Scotian film to make waves with audiences internationally, and now she’s back with the remarkable Queens of the Qing Dynasty. It’s the story of the unlikely connection between a non-binary Chinese student looking for a home here in Nova Scotia who becomes a caregiver of sorts to an emotionally troubled, neurodivergent local woman, and how they find things to share in their parallel outsider status.

I saw the film at TIFF, and what struck me were McKenzie’s continued unorthodox choices as a cinematic storyteller, from the characters she writes and brings to life to the way she sets up her camera.

I asked her about a lot of this when she and I met in Toronto, and sat down in a hallway in the hotel where most of the festival visitors were staying.  Click here to listen:

Queens of the Qing Dynasty screens at Carbon Arc Cinema on Friday, March 10 and Saturday, March 11, both evenings at 7pm.  (Recent screenings at Carbon Arc have been half-capacity, but these will be full-capacity screenings.)

Ashley McKenzie and her star, Sarah Walker, will attend both screenings.

About the author


Carsten Knox is a massive, cheese-eating nerd. In the day he works as a journalist in Halifax, Nova Scotia. At night he stares out at the rain-slick streets, watches movies, and writes about what he's seeing.