Why I Hate Bees is a comedic journey into a young girl’s memories of near death, based on the short story written by Nancy Jo Cullen.

Experimental, 16mm, 4 min, colour, Canada, 1997


Honourable Mention, Ann Arbor Film Festival, 2000
Grand Prize, Cabbagetown Film Festival, Toronto, 1999
Best Canadian Lesbian Short, Inside Out Film Festival, Toronto, 1998


Director Producer Scriptwriter Sarah Abbott
Original Story Nancy Jo Cullen
Cinematographer Editor Sarah Abbott
Production Assistance Janine Fung
Sound Editor Robert Warchol
Sound Mix Timothy Muirhead
Cast Ruby Watson Rowe (narrator), Kathleen Swim Fowler, Douglas Brown, Josh Brown, Sophie the dog


When I discovered Nancy Jo Cullen’s Short story “ Why I Hate Bees” in the quarterly literary magazine Grain, it had just won an honourable mention in this Canadian publication’s writing contest. The complete text of Nancy Jo Cullen’s story serves as the narration to the film. For the accompanying visuals and sound, I play with the way memory races ahead or lags behind the stories we tell, and the tendency it has to linger on the things we do not mention in our stories. Through optical printing, use of colour, animation and sound, I interpret the memory and point of view of the young narrator – sometimes touching directly on her story, other times suggesting what she might have experienced but is not telling.

Local non-professional actors participated in shooting the film on location in Brockville and Gravenhurst, Ontario. The energy of the kids was explosive, and they contributed smart suggestions for production practicalities. Principle actor Kathleen Swim Fowler was stung by a bee during rehearsal for the kissing scene. Ten-year-old narrator Ruby Watson Rowe was a natural, reading Cullen’s story just as it sounded in my imagination.

The film was made with a grant from The Canada Council for the Arts, Media Arts section.

Production Stills