At a celebration in Toronto Tuesday night, New Waterford filmmaker Ashley McKenzie took the Toronto Film Critics’ prestigious Jay Scott Award for an emerging artist. The critics honoured McKenzie for her first feature-length movie, WEREWOLF, a gritty portrayal of a New Waterford couple dependent on methadone.
Here’s the Trailer]:
The movie premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, which named it one of Canada’s Top 10 films for 2016. It has also screened (or soon will) at festivals in Montreal, Vancouver, Halifax, and Berlin.
This is a remarkable feat when you consider that McKenzie shot WEREWOLF entirely in Cape Breton, with an all-Cape Breton cast and crew (a fact that put a few noses out of joint at ACTRA Halifax, where a misguided minority aspire to monopoly control of visual storytelling in our province).
McKenzie is a both gifted writer and an increasingly sure-footed director with a special knack for coaxing stellar performances out of inexperienced authors. The result is an important Cape Breton story told not just sympathetically, but with unrivalled authenticity. There has never been a movie like this about Cape Breton.
(In the interests of disclosure, McKenzie and her producer Nelson MacDonald are friends of mine. I’m thrilled at what they’ve accomplished, and can’t wait to see what comes next.)