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NFB Hothouse 10: ‘A Little Craving’ (Frances Adair Mckenzie)

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Frances_2_croppedHaving grown up in British Columbia, Frances Adair Mckenzie now resides in Montreal as a new media artist, having earned a Bachelor in Studio Arts from Concordia University as well as a diploma in New Media Design from BCIT. Her work spans a broad artistic gamut including stop-motion, illustration, mask-making, digital art, installations and projection. Amongst her recent work is the “immersive digital Baroque opera” Party Like It’s 1699 which was presented toward the end of last year at the Society for Arts and Technology. Bringing her uniquely abstract filmmaking style to the National Film Board of Canada for the tenth edition of its apprenticeship scheme Hothouse, her film A Little Craving takes inspiration from the found sound of dogs growling to create a surrealist, stop-motion work in which a pair of disembodied wigs fight a losing battle with temptation.

A Little Craving is an animation about intuition, desire and allowing the forces we can’t always understand to construct us. It is about failure; underlining the notion that if you’re going to fail, you should always fail hard.

The piece is inspired by an album of vintage photographs I pored over as a child. Mainly pictures of my mother’s five older sisters, looking stunning, sprawled across various rusted vehicles with oceans of wheat as a backdrop. The family was raised on a farm just outside of Edmonton, Alberta, and at one point there were five teenage girls living in one bedroom, in a house at the end of a dirt road. Notably, in the pictures, elaborate hairdos set the precedent. While I idealized the images, my mother told stories of hair pulled around beer cans and pillows folded under necks; pretence of rest.

One of my favourite pictures depicts her oldest sister, Jesse, on the deck of a ferry boat; she looks elated and sunny, hanging on the arm of her husband. My mother’s realism always captioned the shot. The fact was that the husband liked a woman with panache and insisted on the constant maintenance of bleached blond locks… her beehive was his. A demand and a uniform, the emblem of beauty and control. Powerful on the surface, like a mask or headdress, but also detrimental to uphold.

frances_nfbMy wigs are these women: matriarchs, vibrant, humorous and snooty. They fall and maintain and get back up. Imperfect beings filled with love, pain and tragedy. Frightening, beautiful and bizarre.

-Frances Adair Mckenzie

Keep your eyes on Skwigly over the coming days to hear more from the Hothouse 10 participants. To learn more about the work of Frances Adair Mckenzie visit

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