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Queens of the Qing Dynasty film image, director Ashley McKenzie

Queens of the Qing Dynasty

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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.


March 18: Filmmaker, cast and crew Zoom Q&A


A playful, energetic and empathetic work – also a tremendously ambitious stretching of form and vision.

Barry Hertz, Globe and Mail


Ashley McKenzie


Sarah Walker, Ziyin Zheng, Wendy Wishart, Jana Reddick, Yao Xue, Cherlena Brake

Country of Origin





In English, Mandarin, and Russian with English subtitles

122 min

Book Tickets

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Ashley McKenzie, Britt Kerr, Nelson MacDonald


Ashley McKenzie


Scott Moore


Ashley McKenzie, Scott Moore

Production Design

Michael Pierson

Original Music

Yu Su, Cecile Believe

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