Ashley McKenzie (director)

Ashley McKenzie (born 1984) is a Canadian director, screenwriter, and editor.[1] She is known for her feature film directorial debut Werewolf (2016), which won numerous accolades, including the $100,000 Toronto Film Critics Association prize for best Canadian film of the year.[2]

Ashley McKenzie
Born 1984 (age 33–34)
Nationality Canadian
Occupation Film director, screenwriter, editor
Years active 2010–present

Early life

McKenzie was born on Cape Breton Island and raised in New Waterford, Nova Scotia.[3]


McKenzie began her career making short films in 2010.[4] Her first short film, Rhonda's Party (2010), won the CBC's Short Film Face-Off.[5] Her second short film, When You Sleep (2012), won the award for Best Atlantic Emerging Director at the 2012 Atlantic Film Festival, and screened at the Cannes Film Festival in Telefilm Canada's short film showcase.[6] Her third short film, Stray, was released in 2013 and her fourth film, 4 Quarters (2015), won Best Atlantic Short at the 2015 Atlantic Film Festival.[7]

For her short film work, McKenzie has won the National Screen Institute's Shaw Media Fearless Female Director Award three times, in 2013, 2014, and 2015.[8]


McKenzie made her feature film directorial debut with Werewolf (2016), a film about two drug addicts in Cape Breton.[9] Werewolf premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and has since won several awards; at the 2016 Atlantic Film Festival, Werewolf won the awards for Best Director (McKenzie), Best Actress (MacNeil), and Best Actor (Gillis).[3] At the 5th Canadian Screen Awards, McKenzie was nominated for the Canadian Screen Award for Best Achievement in Editing.[10] Gillis was nominated for Best Actor and MacNeil was nominated for Best Actress.[11] In 2016, for her work on the film, McKenzie won the Stella Artois Jay Scott Prize.[2] The following year, after its theatrical release, Werewolf won the $100,000 Toronto Film Critics Association prize for best Canadian film of the year.[12]


Joe Leydon of Variety described McKenzie's directing style as having "borderline Bressonian austerity."[13] In an article called "A Generational Shift in Filmmaking", in discussing Werewolf, Richard Brody of The New Yorker wrote that "McKenzie fuses a documentary-like observational precision with a creative imagination that endows her characters’ struggles with a quietly monumental grandeur."[14]


Year Association Category Nominated work Result
2016 Atlantic Film Festival Best Director Werewolf Won
2017 Vancouver Film Critics Circle Best Director of a Canadian Film Nominated
Best Screenplay for a Canadian Film Nominated
Canadian Screen Awards Best Achievement in Editing Nominated
Toronto Film Critics Association Best Canadian Film Won


  1. ^ "Introducing the fearless Ashley McKenzie". Retrieved 2018-01-11.
  2. ^ a b "Toronto Film Critics give their top prize to Ashley McKenzie for Werewolf". National Post. 2018-01-10. Retrieved 2018-01-11.
  3. ^ a b "Cape Breton film 'Werewolf' a howling success at Atlantic Film Festival". Cape Breton Post. 26 September 2016. Retrieved 21 January 2017.
  4. ^ "Ashley McKenzie wins WIFT-AT's inaugural All Access Pass Award". National Screen Institute - Canada (NSI). 2012-08-23. Retrieved 2017-02-19.
  5. ^ Knox, Carsten. "Rhonda's Party wins CBC Short Film Face-Off". The Coast Halifax. Retrieved 2018-01-14.
  6. ^ "Young director fulfils dream". The Chronicle Herald. 2014-04-14. Retrieved 2018-01-11.
  7. ^ "Ashley McKenzie". IMDb. Retrieved 2018-01-11.
  8. ^ "Ashley McKenzie on her new film 'Werewolf,' existentialism, addictions and 'honest framing' |". Retrieved 2018-01-11.
  9. ^ "Cape Breton film gets 'overwhelming' reaction at Berlin film festival". CBC News. Retrieved 2017-02-26.
  10. ^ Furdyk, Brent (17 January 2017). "2017 Canadian Screen Awards nominees revealed". Global News. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  11. ^ "Orphan Black, Schitt's Creek, Kim's Convenience up for Canadian Screen Awards". CBC News, January 17, 2017.
  12. ^ Doherty, Brennan (2018-01-09). "Werewolf wins big at Toronto Film Critics awards". The Toronto Star. ISSN 0319-0781. Retrieved 2018-01-11.
  13. ^ Leydon, Joe (2016-09-21). "Film Review: 'Werewolf'". Variety. Retrieved 2017-03-06.
  14. ^ Brody, Richard (2017-05-09). "A Generational Shift in Independent Filmmaking, at the 2017 Maryland Film Festival". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2017-12-08.

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