Recovering from a suicide attempt in a Cape Breton hospital, Star (Sarah Walker), a neurodiverse teen, is drawn into the orbit of An (Ziyin Zheng), a genderqueer volunteer. Despite their disparate backgrounds (An has recently arrived from Shanghai), the pair operate on identical idiosyncratic frequencies, fortifying their bond through a flurry of text messages and unguarded declarations. After disclosing her aspiration of becoming a trophy wife to An, Star incants, “You’re sinning… making me evil.”
In reality, there’s nothing sinister afoot in Ashley McKenzie’s (Werewolf, 2016) extraordinary sophomore feature. Rather, it’s a disarmingly open-hearted, formally exhilarating ode to a fairy tale friendship. A heady mix of unvarnished-yet-eloquent dialogue, transportive electronic compositions by Yu Su and Cecile Believe, and visual flourishes that meld social media, animation, and VR, the film sees McKenzie adhering to her social realist principles while exploring a more expansive, sensorially rich brand of cinema. Unfolding in society’s margins, Queens of the Qing Dynasty burns as incandescently as its two stars.
Q&A Oct 5 & Oct 7
Sarah Walker, Ziyin Zheng, Wendy Wishart, Jana Reddick, Yao Xue, Cherlena Brake
In English, Mandarin, and Russian with English subtitles
More Films in this Series
Like a Fish on the Moon
When their seemingly happy four-year-old son stops talking, Haleh and Amir consult a series of experts, but it's not long before their own relationship begins to suffer. This superbly acted, spare, empathetic film is completely transfixing.
The Novelist's Film
Novelist Junhee is taking a break from writing, going on a daytrip to a small town where her encounters with friends, both old and new, causes her to reconsider an idea she has been mulling over: what if she were to write and direct her own film?
An engineer becomes entranced by the lure of the Alps, abandons his job, pitches his tent high above the snow line, and explores. This simple but remarkable movie goes high and deep. It will inspire and infuriate according to your taste for adventure.
Queens of the Qing Dynasty
Recovering from a suicide attempt, a neurodiverse Cape Breton teen is drawn into the orbit of a genderqueer hospital volunteer who hails from Shanghai. Despite their disparate backgrounds, the pair operate on identical idiosyncratic frequencies.
A Matter of Trust
In one summer afternoon in Denmark, lives are irrevocably changed. A Matter of Trust features five unrelated stories which are seamlessly woven as characters discover trust and mistrust between strangers and those with whom they are closest.
David Ondříček's thoroughly winning biopic tells the story of the legendary long distance runner Emil Zátopek, still the only man to have won Olympic gold medals in the 5000m, 10,000m, and the marathon in the same year (1952).
Timid foley artist Eva's latest project, creating sound effects for a medication commercial starring a dark bay horse, releases her inhibitions and transforms her physical form beyond the realm of possibility.
The Blue Caftan
Richly erotic and deeply moving, Maryam Touzani’s queer-themed film takes us to urban Morocco and into the lives of three beautiful souls. Halim is a master tailor; Mina is his loyal wife; Youssef is the man who slowly comes between them.
No Prior Appointment
An Iranian doctor returns to her home country after 30 years upon learning of her estranged father's death, bringing her young autistic son with her. Nominated for Best Director, Best Cinematography, and Best Screenplay at the 2022 Fajr Film Festival.
Veering away from the standard biopic, Paolo Taviani's latest film follows the ashes of celebrated Italian writer Luigi Pirandello on their journey back to Sicily, then ends with a blunt adaptation of one of his short stories.
Once Upon a Time in Calcutta
Aditya Vikram Sengupta explores the depths and vagaries of the human condition through an agoraphobic recluse, a young man working in a chit fund, and a TV host striking out for a new life against the backdrop of a crumbling, nostalgia-mired Calcutta.
Already enduring microaggressions and inept attempts at wokeness from her Manhattan employers, a Senegalese immigrant must also contend with supernatural figures manifesting in both her dreams and waking world. A haunting tale of immigration's realities.
Using tinted archival footage and shot in lush, saturated colours, Scarlet is a romantic coming-of-age period tale about a young woman who is ostracized by her small French village. Featured in 2022 Cannes Film Festival's Directors’ Fortnight.
Septet: The Story of Hong Kong
These shorts from seven of Hong Kong’s best filmmakers is an elegiac tribute to the city's past—and a subversive commentary on its present. From kung fu to the cultural politics of cuisine, the filmmakers mine their city's history with wit and poignancy.
Fernanda returns to her hometown of Goiás, Brazil, to scatter her adoptive mother's ashes and to learn the truth about her origins. In scenes infused with magical realism, she learns her disturbing family history and the limits of her strength.
Steely and determined tequila factory owner María Garcia (played by Teresa Sánchez) fights an uphill battle against nature, chance, and the impending global takeover of the local economy in Juan Pablo González' first narrative feature.
Based on a true story, Cioma Schönhaus, a young Jewish man living in 1942 Berlin, forges passports for Jewish people to escape the country. Instead of hiding, he impersonates military personnel so he can live life, risking discovery by the Gestapo.
In this thriller about a French couple starting a new life in rural Galicia, Spain, director Rodrigo Sorogoyen presents the feral underbelly of country life where tensions between foreigners and locals, educated and uneducated, brutally come to the fore.
Faced with the challenge of making movies under quarantine conditions, Andrew Bujalski came up with six two-handers, and shot each actor separately in this series of wry conversation pieces—a technical feat he carries off with casual elan.
A flashy new neighbour transforms the life of aging couple Meir and Tova, initially in ways that promise renewal, in this sharp Israeli comedy of manners, the Audience Award winner at the Jerusalem Film Festival. Sasson Gabay (The Band's Visit) stars.
In the aftermath of a young woman’s bloody murder in Paris—her identity shrouded in mystery—detective Jules Maigret (Gérard Depardieu) begins to unravel the strange details surrounding her life and death.
Waleed struggles with depression, married life, and writer’s block. Upon learning that his cocky new neighbour Jalal is indebted to some dangerous men, he starts tagging along for Jalal’s shake-downs, ostensibly as research for a crime novel.
Ashley McKenzie, Britt Kerr, Nelson MacDonald
Ashley McKenzie, Scott Moore
Yu Su, Cecile Believe
Ashley McKenzie (she/they) is a filmmaker based in Unama’ki (Cape Breton Island). Her debut feature Werewolf (2016) won the Rogers Best Canadian Film Award from the Toronto Film Critics Association in 2017. Film Comment called Werewolf “an austere, marvelously focused debut feature,” while The New Yorker named it to their Best Movies of 2018 list. Ashley’s films have screened at the Berlinale, Toronto International Film Festival, Maryland Film Festival, and Sydney Film Festival, and have been curated by the Criterion Channel, MUBI, and Anthology Film Archives.
Filmography: Werewolf (2016)